Monday, February 06, 2017

More Good News : Uber has pulled out of Taiwan amidst regulatory battle

A few months after Taiwanese regulators moved to give Uber the boot, the US-based ride-hailing giant has shut down its service in the country effective February 10.

In a blog post calling the move a “pause”, Uber accused the Taiwanese government of moving “further and further away from embracing innovation and setting the stage for a 21st century transportation policy”.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications will update with their statement soon.

Uber and the Taiwanese government have had a confrontational relationship for at least half a year, but disagreements peaked in December when parliament voted to raised fines against unlicensed services.

A driver that is punished could face a maximum fine of US$790,000, making it the world’s steepest fine. Uber pays for its driver’s fines and according to The Straits Times has racked up TWD1.1 billion (US$35.4 million) in the month-plus since the legislation went into effect.

Also Read: Taiwan moves to boot out Uber and also UberEATS

In the blog post, the company hinted that the decision to press pause could be a negotiation tactic:

“In the face of this impasse, we must create a new path forward. Today, we are announcing our intention to pause our Taiwan service starting Friday 10th February. We hope that pressing pause will reset the conversation and inspire President Tsai to take action.”

Uber is fairly popular in Taiwan, and it will be worth watching how the public responds when the service is officially pulled.

There is one model for how a city that integrated — and then pulled — Uber from society adapts. In Austin, Texas, the ride-hailing service went ‘underground’, with organic FaceBook groups replacing the service. Other companies, more willing to adapt to local regulations, also jumped in to fill the void.

Also Read: [Updated] It gets worse: Taiwan is latest country to try and give Uber the boot

Uber operates in four cities across Taiwan and claims to have completed over 15 million rides in the country.