SEOUL, March 31 (Korea Bizwire) – Daum Kakao, the operator of South Korea’s top mobile messenger, KakaoTalk, rolled out Tuesday its cab-booking mobile application for smartphone users, extending the service to a full lineup after it launched a similar platform for taxi drivers early this year.
KakaoTaxi, available for downloading at Google Play for Android users, connects a KakaoTalk user to the closest taxi in the area via a mobile call, the company said in a statement.
A user simply needs to type in his or her destination on the app, which will be sent to the available cab driver. The app doesn’t require the rider to tell the driver the current location, since the app will automatically show it on the driver’s app through the Global Positioning System (GPS).
The iOS version of KakaoTaxi for iPhone users will be available in April, the company added.
Daum Kakao’s cab-hailing app came amid growing concern in South Korea over such mobile platform services created by IT firms.
Uber, a similar tool introduced to the local market by U.S. venture Uber Technologies, has been under intense scrutiny from local taxi drivers who have called for a ban on the service because it undermines their business.
The Uber app allows any vehicle owner to operate a ride-booking service, sparking not only criticism that they’re unlicensed taxi drivers but also safety concerns because the identity of the drivers is not guaranteed.
KakaoTaxi has avoided such potential problems from the beginning. Daum Kakao has worked with local taxi drivers since January, forging partnerships with taxi associations and a local instant online payment operator before it introduced the app to the market.
There are about 280,000 registered taxi drivers in South Korea, with more than 50,000 of them using at least one mobile cab-hailing platform, according to the latest government data. Daum Kakao declined to disclose the number of its taxi drivers signed up with KakaoTaxi.