In 2012, Eddie Ybanez founded MICAB, a cab-hailing application for Android and iOS devices. The application started as an SMS-based project in Cebu, but as smartphone technology evolved during the years, so did the app.
In 2013, MICAB began operations in Cebu, and two years after that, they expanded to Iloilo.
“Now we’re expanding to Manila and Davao,” Ybanez said. “We’re exclusively partnering with taxi vehicles,” he added, when asked about the difference against competitors.
The app will be available for download in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store with a targeted launch in November, just in time for the Christmas season, where hailing cabs can become a nightmare.
MICAB will allow taxi drivers to see passenger’s destination prior to accepting the ride.
“We have a focus group about the worst case scenarios,” Ybanez said, “some people are proposing to not reveal destinations, but worst case is, the driver will reject the passenger – while the passenger is inside the car. As much as possible we don’t want that to happen. So we will let the taxi driver see the destination but once he declines, he will be penalized.”
Per day, a taxi driver is allowed to decline up to three times and each one will penalize the driver.
“The first offense, he will be out of the system for an hour. Second office will three hours. The third offense, he can get banned from the system unless he goes to the office to explain and undergo a training,” said Ybanez.
The said training involves four modules: Customer service, basic grooming and car cleanliness, Basic English, and technical training, which involves how to use the MICAB system.
To take further action about a complaint, MICAB partnered with the DOTr.
“What we’re trying to provide is not just the application but the whole system,” Ybanez said. “We’re actually partnering with DOTr for consumer affairs department. We’re providing them the system to monitor complaints. We can penalize the drivers but we will need their help to properly penalize them, such as getting their licenses.”
MICAB has multiple taxi operators as partners. This allows them to share driver backgrounds, making it difficult for drivers to switch operators when they have been banned.
“We have 3,000 taxis, meaning 6,000 drivers in Manila,” said Ybanez, “In Cebu and Davao we each have over 2,000. Iloilo has about 200.”
As for the rate of booking fees, that remains to be in discussion MICAB and taxi operators before the full MICAB launch. At the time of the interview, the booking fee is zero. “We’re trying to push that,” Ybanez said, “so that’s why we’re talking to our partners now, but it’s not final.”
The business model, Ybanez explained, is not to earn through booking fees, but through advertisements. Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao have no booking fees and they are hoping the same can be possible for Manila.