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Uber China’s new app makes cab-hailing a seriously terrible chore for foreigners

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Didi Chuxing and Uber fought a very hard battle over China. After raising funds that would have put any other startup to shame, and going on discount and offer sprees, the battle finally ended with Didi acquiring Uber China. Well, months after the acquisition, Didi Chuxing is finally rolling out some major changes. Uber’s China app is now separate from its global counterpart.

So here are how things stand now. There is one Uber app that you can use to hail cabs almost anywhere in the world. And then there is the Uber China app, which can be used to grab rides only in China. This would certainly cause some minor discomfort to visitors to the country, who would have to install a different application in order to avail Uber’s services. But alas, Didi Chuxing has brewed up something else too.

Users will now have to create a new account in order to use Uber China. What’s more, registering on the app will now require a Chinese mobile phone number plus a valid Chinese payment method, such as Union Pay, Alipay or Baidu Wallet, to do so.

According to Didi, Chinese users had already been made aware of the development and the majority of them have already taken the leap and have started using the new app. However, the company is now issuing an update that will compel everyone to follow suit.

While folks living in China won’t have to go through anything more than a minor discomfort, foreigners and visitors to the company — who relied on Uber to travel — are going to suddenly find their cabs much harder to hail. And no, it does not push them into Didi’s arms either. The Didi Chuxing application is available in Mandarin only and the company’s recent move is certain to make life harder for visitors.

Until Didi/Uber China giver their applications a face-lift that is. Didi Chuxing has already said that it wants to expand to international markets as well. The company has now promised to introduce multilingual, international features to its app as well. Unfortunately though, foreigners will be hard pressed to find cabs from the two most reliable operators in the country.

Didi has also released a statement, in which it apologized for any inconvenience which may have been caused due to this move.

We apologize to our users for any inconvenience may be caused by this transition. The Uber China team has been working hard to make the new version faster-responding and more user friendly.

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  • You miss some of the major points here: As a foreigner living here, my apple account is registered in my home country. My Apple ID and my credit card attached to it will only allow my to download from my home countries app-store. This means: I have many times tried to download the Chinese Uber App, but was not able to do so. Another disadvantage is that I can not use my foreign credit card anymore, which means,
    I now have to transfer another monthly amount of money into China for all my rides.