Uber is increasingly ubiquitous around the world. Now, the ride-hailing giant — backed by $US5.9 billion in venture capital funding — operates in 55 countries and 200 cities around the world.
But there’s still one area of the world Uber needs to work on before it can truly achieve international status.
Last December, Uber raised a massive $US1.2 billion round of funding. It was intended to allow Uber to “make significant investments, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.”
Earlier this year, BuzzFeed News reported that Softbank Capital, which has funded on-demand ride-hailing startups GrabTaxi and OlaCabs, was behind a global alliance to take on Uber.
Since then, two other huge Asian taxi-hailing companies — Kuaidi Dache, which is funded by Alibaba, and Didi Dache, funded by Tencent — have merged, consolidating the power of Asia-based car-hailing companies.
And though Uber operates in a number of Asian markets, including Beijing, Bangkok, and Tokyo, Uber has faced other legal hurdles in Asia.
South Korea has charged Uber CEO Travis Kalanick with operating an “illegal” taxi service, and has vowed to shut down Uber’s operations in the country. As TechCrunch notes, “Korean law doesn’t allow technology companies to store payment data as part of their purchase workflow, but instead requires consumers to retype their information with every purchase, ostensibly for security reasons.”
Earlier this month, Uber’s China offices were raided by police in what was described as a crackdown on ride hailing apps. China’s taxi market is largely state-owned, and the International Business Times reports some Chinese citizens have been angered by taxi drivers opting to switch over to apps like Uber, because it makes it more difficult to simply hail a cab on the street.
But it’s not just the Asia Pacific area that Uber needs to worry about. It’s India, too.
OlaCabs, an Uber rival native to India, has a $US2.5 billion valuation and the trust of the Indian people, another obstacle Uber has to overcome in its international expansion. Allegations of an Uber driver raping a female passenger in India in 2014 have led some Indians to be wary of Uber’s services and have prompted protests against Uber’s services across the country.
Uber has already worked to address these issues, though. Uber has customised its Indian experience, adding an in-app panic button option that alerts police to your location, as well as introducing rickshaws and cash payment options for its Indian customers.
Uber certainly already has a leg up on its US rivals: Lyft, perhaps its closest competitor, hasn’t even expanded outside the States yet. But if Uber wants to achieve global expansion, it needs to work within the legal regulations in the Asia Pacific area as well as work to make its Indian customers happy.