SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — Uber Technologies Inc., the provider of the controversial taxi-hailing app, proposed Wednesday that the South Korean government allow local Uber drivers to become licensed, stressing that the U.S. startup is willing to work with local officials to resolve pending legal issues.
David Plouffe, the senior vice president of policy and strategy, asked the Seoul government to set up a registration system that requires Uber drivers to meet a certain standard, including training and experience, which will in effect help curb potential safety risks and insurance coverage concerns.
“Many cities are adopting this approach. They’ve started to pass forward-looking regulations for the ride-sharing service. That’s what we believe we need to do in Korea,” he said at a press conference held in Seoul.
Uber Korea, launched here in 2013, has been under intense scrutiny from local taxi drivers and in dispute with the government as its unregistered ride-booking service is currently regarded as illegal.
Plouffe, however, did not further elaborate on details of such a registration system for Uber drivers, only to imply that the legalization of Uber will bring benefit to the overall economy.
“The taxi industry (in Korea) is almost exclusively a cash industry, but Uber provides a cashless service that is good for local businesses as well as consumers that can change the overall transportation market,” he said.
A few hundred taxi drivers staged a protest at the entrance of the hotel where Plouffe spoke, demanding Uber leave the country so they can secure their jobs.
Plouffe said Uber “will eventually be a perfect fit” for Korea, one of the most IT-savvy countries in the world, as it will benefit both riders and drivers in the long term, citing the latest partnership agreement the firm signed with a local taxi company based in the South Korean port city of Incheon.
“We are eager to seek solutions with Korean officials at a local and national level, to offer an alternative service that works well for the city.” he said.