Indian cab-hailing giant Ola has launched in the UK to challenge Uber — and they both share a big investor

Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal

Indian ride-hailing startup Ola plans to launch in the UK and take on Uber.
Ola will initially launch in Greater Manchester and south Wales but is yet to submit an application for a London licence.
Uber is the dominant ride-hailing company in the UK, with around 5 million customers.
The launch means a major investor in both Ola and Uber, SoftBank, is effectively going to war with itself.

Indian ride-hailing company Ola plans to launch in the UK, signalling more competition for incumbent Uber.

Ola will open operations in Greater Manchester and south Wales, including capital Cardiff, within the next month. The company said it was working with regulators to launch nationwide by the end of the year, but is yet to submit an application for a London licence.

Like Uber, Ola operates a ride-hailing service through an app and relies on the availability of contracted drivers. It is hugely popular in its home market of India, where Uber also operates. Uber has around 5 million customers in the UK, while Ola says it has about 125 million outside the UK.

Ola’s launch means its biggest investor is effectively going to war with itself in the UK. Both Ola and Uber share a major backer: Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank. Ola was reportedly raising $2 billion from SoftBank and other investors last October, and the Japanese firm took a 20% stake in Uber at the beginning of this year.

Like every similar service, Ola has come in for criticism for the way it treats drivers in terms of pay and their employment status. The company said people can hail both private hire cabs and black taxis through its app. This is a differentiator from Uber, which only offers private hire vehicles.

Ola claimed it offered “higher earnings and daily payments,” but didn’t give further details. Business Insider has requested clarification. The company also said its drivers are fully screened, and that it offers 24-hour support to passengers, options to share ride details with contacts, and in-app emergency features.

Bhavish Aggarwal, chief executive of Ola, said in a statement: “Ola is excited to announce its plans for the UK, one of the world’s most evolved transportation markets. The UK is a fantastic place to do business and we look forward to providing a responsible, compelling, new service that can help the country meet its ever demanding mobility needs.”

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Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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