Uber, the ridesharing services, had not had it easy in India – almost every move they make seems to be mired in controversy. Nevertheless, it looks like they’re determined to take the Indian market. They’ve launched a service called UberAuto, a cash-only system where users can hail three-wheelers with the app. This sounds identical to quite a few ideas along the same lines bounced back and forth at Sri Lankan hackathons just a couple of years ago.
UberAuto is in the wake of a local rival called Ola, an Indian firm that seems to have a better spread at the moment: they operate across 80 cities, introduced three-wheeler bookings last year, introduced an in-app wallet that works across Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, and apparently brought Mumbai’s traditional taxis onto the service as well. Ola has also raised $315 million recently, upping an estimating $1 billion valuation to unknown levels.
While the Indian government seems to be collectively frowning on the disruptive ridesharing services, many Indian consumers online seem to hail them as an excellent way of forcing an unsatisfactory urban transport system to improve itself. Interestingly, this casts a very favorable light on Sri Lanka: Online Cabs actually has had an application like this out for a while. It’s about time we gave our tuk-tuk entrepreneurs a pat on the back.