Didi Chuxing, the most popular taxi-booking platform in China, announced plans to expand its service into neighbouring Taiwan using a franchising model.
The company, which is valued at $50 billion, is recruiting drivers through Facebook, with its authorised franchisee in the country LEDI Technology overseeing the process, Bloomberg reported.
Didi did not announce when the service would start, but in a statement said LEDI is conducting market research and exploring community partnerships in Taiwan. Didi is yet to apply for a licence with Taiwan authorities, Economic Daily News reported citing a representative from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
Rival Uber, which faced numerous obstacles in Taiwan, announced in January it would work with local taxi operators to launch a new service called UberTAXI.
However, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said at the time Uber was operating illegally and would be ordered to terminate its service if it used drivers who didn’t hold a commercial vehicle licence. The government raised the maximum fine for illegal taxi operators to TWD25 million ($790,600). Uber reportedly faced fines totalling TWD1.1 billion in January alone.
The country’s Investment Commission said in August 2016 Uber may be asked to leave Taiwan because it operates as an internet-based technology platform rather than a transportation service and had misrepresented the nature of its operations. The government said Uber owes sales taxes estimated at nearly TWD100 million.
In April Didi raised an additional $5 billion to fund its international expansion, with the company already targeting Latin America where it signed a deal with a Brazilian taxi-hailing company in January.
Unlike Uber, which attempted to expand rapidly across Asia, Didi moved slowly outside of the mainland, offering limited cross-border services from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, Bloomberg said.