South Korean messaging app maker Daum Kakao is to join rival LINE by launching a mobile taxi-hailing service, according to a report by IDG News Service.
The company will work with licensed taxi drivers in its home country from early in 2015. This approach means it will avoid the kind of backlash experienced by Uber, due to its practice of working with unlicensed taxi drivers.
The Kakao Taxi service will consist of two apps. One will be for drivers and used to recruit them to the service, while the other is for passengers. Android and iOS versions will be offered.
The company has signed a deal with Seoul Taxi Association, which has around 40,000 registered drivers in the South Korean capital. It is also working with Korea Smart Card, a transport payments service provider, to manage transactions.
The South Korean government actually said it would ban Uber in July, because it was illegal due to the potential for it to be used by unlicensed drivers to run rental vehicles for commercial purposes. Local cab drivers also opposed Uber due to the threat it posed to their business.
Despite this, Uber launched its Uber Black limousine service in the country in August, adding Uber Taxi (for licensed cabs) and Uber X in December.
A Daum Kakao representative told IDG that the company is aware of the issues surrounding Uber and is working to avoid them with its own service.
Daum Kakao was formed by the merger of messaging app provider Kakao and internet portal Daum Communications, which was announced in May and completed in October.
KakaoTalk is the most popular messaging app in South Korea and recently expanded to offer games, e-commerce and a social network-based mobile wallet service, BankWalletKakao.
Japan’s LINE Corp announced in October that it would be launching a taxi service giving users the ability to book cab rides via the LINE App and pay for them using LINE Pay. Like Kakao, LINE plans to debut its taxi app in its home country.