THE vision of the entrepreneurs behind Oway Ride, Myanmar’s first ride-hailing application, will not be dimmed by the entry foreign players like Uber and Grab as the local firm aims to cooperate with nearly 10,000 taxi drivers in its operation by the end of this year.
Kyaw Min Swe, senior director and head of Oway Ride, said in an interview that foreign competition would make the firm even stronger than ever, as local players knew more about the market and customers’ behaviour.
“We are not afraid of international players. In terms of market experience and efforts, we believe we can do better than our rivals. In terms of technology and strategies, we can do as good as what they do,” he said.
“The only thing we are worried about is that local entrepreneurs will become demotivated by their entry. In some of our neighbouring countries like India and China, the governments allowed foreign ride-hailing players to do business in their countries only after local players like Didi became well-established in the market in terms of business performance and customer base. It would be better if our government takes the effort and interest of the local players into serious consideration.”
He urged the government to support local entrepreneurs with the formation of a regulatory framework that encourages innovative business ideas that contribute to the nation’s economic growth. He suggested allowing in foreign businesses only when local players have reached to a certain level in the market.
Kyaw Min Swe foresees a promising future for the taxi industry in Myanmar. His company boasts double-growth on a monthly basis since the launch of the application in March 2016, after several test runs for about one year.
“Our app has been downloaded on to nearly 200,000 mobile devices across the country. Now, our services are available in Yangon and Mandalay, and will expand to other major cities in the near future, as we grow further,” he said.
The firm cooperates with more than 3,000 drivers in Yangon and more than 500 in Mandalay. The app was designed and developed by local technicians with the help of Indian experts.
According to Kyaw Min Swe, training is key to the firm’s growth. Aside from intensive training for |the drivers, activities to build customer awareness have been held occasionally. The company was involved in the recent “Start with me” road safety campaign organised by the Yangon Region Government to build awareness on road safety, for drivers and pedestrians.
The firm also offers better car management for corporate accounts through a programme for companies known as Doh Car. By using the feature, employees will be able to book a company car from the app, and if one is not available, they would have the option to book a taxi directly. This is a boon for for managers in Yangon and Mandalay and allows them to track easily the whereabouts of company cars and the time spent in taxis by their employees, he said.
Kyaw Min Swe said the firm also released another app feature to enhance safety for passengers in late March. The feature allows people to track the rides of those close to them directly from their mobile phones. In order to improve safety of single passengers, Oway Ride team devised a tracking code that, when entered, could let people follow the journey of the person who issued it.
“Passengers’ safety and convenience are what we value the most,” he said.
“We do have the records of our drivers’ personal background including their contact numbers and addresses so that our passengers feel safe throughout their rides, even at night. And we also have a call centre to address passengers’ complaints as well as to accept bookings.”
The firm also looks after interests of its drivers. According to Kyaw Min Swe, it can create an average of 18 ride-hailing appointments for every single driver on a daily basis.
Additionally, the firm occasionally hosts events to congratulate its drivers, with a lucky draw programme and merit-based awards to the drivers.
There, winners of the “Driver of the Year”, the “Honesty Award” and the “Pride of Oway Ride” are selected according to the number of rides they completed, the ratings they gained from customers and the attention they gave to maintaining their taxi.