COMPETITION in the taxi booking market here just moved up another notch, this time with Easy Taxi announcing that it has partnered WeChat to let users book taxis directly via the messaging app.
Easy Taxi, a taxi booking app launched last December, allows users to book a taxi from any of the seven taxi operators here.
Beginning yesterday, Singapore WeChat users simply need to follow Easy Taxi's official WeChat account (ID: EasyTaxiSGP) to enjoy the taxi booking function.
The integration of Easy Taxi into WeChat is a logical decision in this age of mobile Internet and given how most social interactions are now conducted through smartphones, Jianggan Li, co-founder and managing director of Easy Taxi Singapore, told The Business Times.
The tie-up also marks WeChat's first taxi partnership outside China, said Poshu Yeung, a vice-president at Tencent, the Chinese Internet company behind WeChat.
"Singapore makes an ideal launchpad for Asia, thanks to its sophisticated market and high usage of taxis and smartphones; about 75 per cent of taxi drivers here use smartphones," he said.
To launch the partnership, Easy Taxi is offering users a $5 discount on taxi fares and taxi drivers an additional $1 in earnings for every booking made through WeChat.
The promotion will run until the end of this month.
Moreover, users will soon be able to enjoy cashless payment features, paying for their rides via the WeChat app which would already have their credit or debit card information stored online.
While Easy Taxi declined to reveal user statistics, it said that it expects to see some 30 per cent growth in taxi bookings following the partnership with WeChat.
And all of this is only the first step for Easy Taxi, whose long-term goal is to create a one-stop lifestyle platform for users, said Mr Li.
The start-up is now in talks with fellow Rocket Internet-backed ventures (such as food delivery app FoodPanda, online marketplace Lazada and online clothing store Zalora) to explore tie-up opportunities so as to enable a full suite of lifestyle services through WeChat.
In China, WeChat recently partnered taxi booking app Didi Taxi to compete with Alibaba-backed Kuaidi Taxi.
Just last week, Singapore-based taxi booking app GrabTaxi introduced GrabCar - a service that lets users book a private- hire luxury car through their smartphones - to meet what it claimed is high, but unfulfilled, demand for taxis during peak hours.
Other taxi booking players here include MoobiTaxi, launched in July last year, and Uber, which rode into town in January 2013.