Home-grown Diffride newest e-hailing service in Malaysia

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By BERNAMA

Malaysia will see another e-hailing service provider with the launch by home-grown start-up Diffride Global Solutions Sdn Bhd this week.

The service, Diffride, has 2,000 drivers on its database and the location focus will be the Klang Valley for now.

Diffride’s CEO Hannah Yong said management is currently reviewing the drivers and their profiles will be sent to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) with the whole process to take about two weeks.

“With all the regulations and rules for the e-hailing industry, we aim to be compliant and need to go through the proper channels. Once the drivers’ profiles are filtered by the SPAD, we will send them their logins and they can start driving,” she told reporters at the service launch in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Diffride target some 6,000 drivers and about half a million riders by the end of 2018.

Yong sees the need for more choices in the current market being a ride-sharing user herself and saw an opportunity.

“We thought why not? We can have some fun with the big boys and we believe the more the merrier. Our main aim is to provide the most affordable and competitive prices to our customers. Our geolocation technology will ensure a rider is matched up with the nearest driver,” she said.

Riders will be able to pay by two means — cash and debit cards, while drivers will pay a flat fee of RM5 for daily access to connect them to potential riders.

“We are the first local e-hailing provider to offer this flat fee instead of requiring them to pay us a percentage of their fares, this means we not only offer our riders a more competitive fare rate for their journey, but also allow our drivers to take home a larger amount of their earnings,” Yong said.

The charges will be based on minute estimates, but Yong assured the public that there will not be a surcharge during peak hours.

“For the first phase, we will maintain it with no surcharge,” she said. According to Yong, the drivers will be rated using telematics technology, where a rider can score drivers using a story system.

“We want to know how our drivers are driving, if they are speeding or taking corners too sharply or braking too aggressively,” she said.

Yong added that they will focus within the country first but will definitely look at expanding within the country and region, targeting tourists especially.

“We are looking at smaller cities like Melaka and Ipoh, we’ve seen the locals not so much into it but the tourists that visit us are, so we want to move there and introduce them to it,” she said.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook, who was also present at the launch, said he encourages local taxi drivers to join the e-hailing platforms so that they are not left behind.

“In the first month of office, I had a dialogue with taxi drivers and we understand their concerns. We do not want the taxi industry to treat e-hailing as the enemy or competitor, but instead for all of them to work together,” he said.

Loke added that the Ministry of Transport decided in early June 2018 that it will not stop or curb the entry of e-hailing services in line with the global services trend.

“The people have spoken and said ride-sharing is an option they need, so the best way forward is to ensure compliance and for us to put in policies to ensure the welfare of both,” Loke said.

Loke said it is compulsory for e-hailing service providers to apply for an intermediary business licence with the SPAD, thus allowing the authorities to monitor the players and services provided.

For now, the commission taken by the service providers has been capped at 20% and Loke said it is still considered high.

“It’ll be good for the industry on a whole. We will help taxi drivers to transform by giving them financial incentives and permits,” he said.

Yong said for now, Diffride will not be boarding any taxi drivers as they need to be fully compliant with regulations.

“Taxi drivers have some issues that need addressing, so once it is sorted, we will take them on for sure. We have strategies in place to get more drivers like through social media and word of mouth. The e-hailing community is small but very integrated and well-knitted. Once there is a new service, people will find out about us,” she said.

During the launching ceremony, Loke received a Huawei Nova 3i smartphone from Yong as a token of appreciation, to which Loke promptly declined the phone as he said it was worth more than RM500.

“Our Cabinet ministers adhere to Pakatan Harapan’s no-gift policy and we want to walk the talk. So, I have to decline the gift and remind future organisers that do call us to officiate events and we do not need any of this,” he concluded.