Regardless of your opinion of Uber and other ride-sharing apps, they have inspired change in the industry. Many operators now integrate websites, apps and other software into their service to remain competitive. Digitisation was inevitable for the industry but disruptors like Uber have caused rapid adoption of tech into taxis. Which, historically, the taxi industry hasn’t been quick to do. It only became law for drivers to accept card payments (in London) as of October 2016. Despite the UK introducing chip and pin 13 years earlier. There are operators across the country still struggling with card payments.
Autocab, the worlds No. 1 supplier of taxi booking and dispatch systems, have worked to fill the tech gap. Their software services have been integral in bringing taxi companies into the digital age. Their products are completely branded to each operator. Their range includes phantom phone systems, online payments, apps and more.
If you’ve booked a cab online in recent years, it’s likely you’ve encountered their tech without even knowing it. About half of the UK taxi industry use Autocabs ‘iGo’ platform for bookings.
Why Are People Worried?
Autocab have been instrumental in providing systems that allow traditional operators to compete with Uber. Now that Autocab is becoming a subsisidary of Uber, operators are understandably concerned. The concerns raised suggest that Uber cannot be trusted with user data. A quick Google search of ‘uber data breach’ quickly reveals why!
Purchasing Autocab could provide Uber with unprecedented access to UK operator data and passenger info. Industry leaders believe that this would drive traditional taxi companies out of business.
What Do We Know So Far?
Both Uber and Auotcab have stressed that the concerns raised do not reflect the reasons behind the acquisition.
Autocab will remain independent and have it’s own decision making board in place. Their mission is to continue working with taxi and private hire operators to improve their service. Utilising Uber’s technology to do so.
Autocab CEO, Safa Alkateb, said:
“Autocab has been working with local operators across the world to provide the technology to make them more efficient and open up a marketplace to provide more trips. Working with Uber we can scale up our ambitions, providing hundreds of thousands of additional trips for our customers, and help cement the place of licenced operators in their local community.”
Jamie Heywood, Regional General Manager, Northern & Eastern Europe, Uber, said:
“Autocab has worked successfully with taxi and private hire operators around the world for more than thirty years and Uber has a lot to learn from their experience. We look forward to working with the Autocab team to help local operators grow and provide drivers with genuine earnings opportunities.”
It remains to be seen how this acquisition will affect the taxi and private hire industry. If we take the statements from both companies at face value, it seems this could be a positive change for the industry. Uber believe they will be able to boost bookings by improving on Autocab’s extensive software offering. If things go as planned, it could be a propersous time to be in the UK taxi and private hire industry.