SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Korea Bizwire) — Kakao Mobility, a South Korean firm that provides ride-hailing and driver-for-hire services, said Thursday that it has invested 1.5 billion yen (US$13.4 million) for a 3.4 percent stake in Japan’s largest taxi-hailing service, JapanTaxi Co., in a move to expand its services beyond the home market.
The two firms plan to release roaming services between their ride-hailing apps in the fourth quarter, Kakao Mobility said.
The services will allow South Korean visitors in Japan to use Kakao Mobility’s app Kakao T to hail a JapanTaxi, while Japanese in South Korea can arrange a cab ride to be provided by Kakao T by using the JapanTaxi app.
“We will actively cooperate with JapanTaxi to forge innovation in the taxi-hailing culture in Japan with Kakao Mobility’s technology and know-how,” Jung Joo-hwan, head of Kakao Mobility, said in comments provided by the company.
Japan’s taxi market is one of the world’s largest with annual revenue of 16 trillion won ($14.2 billion).
Ichiro Kawanabe, head of JapanTaxi, said the cooperation with Kakao Mobility will help expand the taxi-hailing market in Japan. Kakao Mobility is the first foreign company that has invested in JapanTaxi.
Kakao T has some 19 million subscribers in South Korea, equal to 37 percent of the country’s population, with the latest venture marking the first foreign foray for the company.
Kakao Mobility was spun off from Kakao Corp., the operator of South Korea’s most-used messenger, KakaoTalk, in August last year and operates as a separate entity.