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Uber to carve its own way to maintain strong foothold in Southeast Asia

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Since Uber exited the Chinese market by merging its operations with leading cab hailing service Didi, there have been reports hinting, that the former is directing its major attention to Southeast Asia.

This stands true, as on Friday David Plouffe, senior vice president of policy and strategy, confirmed this to Reuters. He told that Uber will focus on “organic growth” as the company attempts to maintain its foothold in the region.

Uber debuted in the region more than three years ago with its Singapore launch and has strategically expanded to other neighboring nations. It has been trying to attract customers in the region to avail other services as well, like UberEats, UberPool, UberMoto, and UberRush.

But akin to Didi, which clearly dominates the market in China, different firms lead the ride-hailing space in the respective nations they operate in, whether it is Go-Jek of Indonesia or Uber’s fiercest rival Singapore-based Grab. So, Uber competes not against just one, but many, and sources reveal such cut-throat rivalry might instigate it to take over some of them as it keeps on expanding.

While competition intensifies in Asia, it has certain hurdles to deal with in the Taiwan market. The American ride-hailing giant has been asked to pay a sales tax bill which might amount to $6.4 million as per reports. Taiwan’s Investment Commission had once considered ordering Uber to exit the market. It reasoned saying the firm misrepresented its business as an internet-based technology platform rather than a transportation service.

Plouffe commented that it would be amazing to witness such a country, which wishes to be looked at as a nation promoting innovation and technology, turn a “cold shoulder” on something like ride-sharing. He adds, Uber is a technology firm and is not regulated as a transportation company anywhere in the world. Plouffe also said,

Not every county understands the benefit. So we just have to agree with the right way forward… We do want to be regulated. I think here in Taiwan the government understands and embraces ride-sharing. That’s a great start… But you also have to understand that you have to have the right regulatory environment to allow that to flourish. That’s the challenge.

In India, Uber faces aggressive competition from Ola, who is supposedly gearing up to add $600 million in its kitty. It had been coming up with new features and updates to keep up with Uber and is constantly giving the latter reasons to up its ante.

On the other hand, after the merger in China, Grab seemed confident to outdo Uber and raised $750 million at a valuation of $3 billion. Later, it partnered with nuTonomy, (who had beaten Uber by launching the first-ever public trial of driverless cars), to test autonomous cab service in Singapore. Only time will tell what is next in the cab aggregator’s agenda to achieve what it’s planning!

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