Uber to Renew Push to Expand in Japan With Taxi Partnerships

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi ride-hailing firms Uber Japan services taxi services Ola transportation service Soft Bank Uber investment Asian taxi market

But both Uber as a company, led now by emollient CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and cities as an unaware playground for VC-fueled tech giants to do as they please have moved on and woken up to tech's disruptive playbook. "But that product hasn't kept up with technological change".

Khosrowshahi was speaking at an investor forum in Tokyo on his first visit to Asia as Uber CEO. Uber's Chinese rival Didi Chuxing previous year began partnership talks with taxi operator Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co., with the discussions facilitated by Uber shareholder SoftBank Group Corp., a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in October.

Uber is pulling the brakes on its service in Morocco, which will cease on February 23, as it waits (and hopes) for local regulators to accommodate app-based ride-hailing. The ride-sharing company is trying to cultivate business relationships with several taxi companies in Japan in order to carve a stake in the $16 billion taxi market, according to Bloomberg. The Sony Payment Service involvement will be to provide payment services for the new system.

Some of the most vigorous opposition to industry deregulation has come from the "prince of taxis" Ichiro Kawanabe, chairman of Japan's largest taxi firm Nihon Kotsu Co Ltd. Plus it has also been suggested that this model could potentially be applied to self-driving taxis in the future, where based on the algorithm they will know where are the "best" places to go based on demand.

Last month Rajeev Misra, a SoftBank executive joining Uber's board, suggested in an interview with the Financial Times that Uber focus on core markets such as the US, Europe, Latin America and Australia.

Tough rules legislate ride-hailing apps in Japan. Uber is also said to be in talks for a venture with Daiichi Koutsu. Sony says it's working on creating a platform that will allow other taxi operators to participate as well. But Uber saw four listless years in Japan, achieving less than 1 percent of monthly rides in Tokyo, the world's largest single cab market.

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