Uber rival Ola has launched in Melbourne

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Indian ridesharing giant Ola has launched in Melbourne today, a month after rolling out in Sydney.

The $9 billion business, backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent, as well as Japanese multinational Softbank, came to Australia in February, starting out in Perth.

The company now has several major Australian cities, including Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Canberra, Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart, earmarked to a roll out over the coming months.

Ola claims to have more than doubled its driver-partners, from 7,000 to 15,000, over the last month.

The business also has an aggressive discounting and incentive strategy in a bid to grab market share from US pioneer Uber in an increasingly crowded app-based ride sharing market, which now includes Estonian-based Taxify and Australian startup GoCatch.

Its aggressive push into the Australia market includes the first two rides being free for new Melbourne customers (one less than the three offered in Sydney), worth up to $20 each, as well as a 50% discount on subsequent rides during what Ola calls an undefined “promotional period”.

Ola is also enticing driver-partners a market low 7.5% introductory commission rate and daily payments.

The Indian ridesharing giant, which says it has more than one million drivers in its home country, is enjoying the pioneering work of its US rival Uber, which paved the way in legalising ridesharing across Australia. State governments have implemented a range of compensation schemes for the taxi industry involving a surcharge on all rides.

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