WITH global ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab facing government regulatory problems, a Cebu-based startup has partnered with taxi operators in Manila to expand its service to more commuters nationwide.
Micab, a startup that started in Cebu that is now also incorporated in Singapore, has signed an agreement with Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) and Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila (ATOMM).
The agreement expands the service area of Micab, which is currently operating in Cebu and Iloilo with a fleet of 800 taxi units, said Eddie Ybañez, Micab’s founder, during last Thursday’s press briefing.
He said Micab currently serves 20,000 passengers with combined monthly bookings of 200,000.
With the deal, Micab will have access to PNTOA and ATOMM combined network of 20,000 taxi units.
Ybanez said that they planned to launch in Manila with 3,000 taxi units and scale up 7,000 units by yearend.
Micab is also planning to expand to Davao.
He said that Micab is similar to Uber and Grab in terms of application, but they differ in the business model. Unlike Uber and Grab, Micab does not directly deal with drivers, but it engages with “premium taxi companies” and provides them an app-based system to dispatch units.
Micab works with Ken Taxi in Cebu and Light of Glory in Iloilo.
Because of that, Ybañez said he does not see any regulatory issues for Micab.
“We are not really subject to LTFRB’s (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s) TVNS (Transport Vehicles Network Service) regulations as our business model is to partner with taxi companies only. All our taxi operator partners are 100 percent compliant with LTFRB’s franchising regulations,” he said in an interview.
The Micab app functions similarly with both Uber and Grab.
Ybanez said though that Micab does not impose surge pricing, but it collects only a low booking fee.
The startup does not take a cut from drivers’ revenues. Its business model, Ybañez said, is “targeted geolocation advertising.”
“Our focus for the coming months is to successfully launch Micab here in Manila, develop customer base, increase brand awareness through excellent customer service and solidify the taxi partner network,” he said.
Micab started out as among the startups funded in the 2013 batch of IdeaSpace Foundation, the incubator of the Manny V. Pangilinan group of companies.
The startup, however, is looking beyond ride hailing.
It is scheduled to launch later this year its Mihealth app, in partnership with “one of the largest HMOs in the Philippines.” It will also launch Micargo, in partnership with Gothong Southern Shipping Lines, in August.