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Kakao Mobility eyes overseas expansion

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Kakao Mobility CEO Ryu Geung-sun speaks during an online press conference Thursday at Pangyo headquarters in Gyeonggi province. (Kakao Mobility)

Kakao Mobility, the country’s leading taxi service operator, said on Thursday it will expand its domestic business, with its next-generation mobility technology and user-friendly service.

“This year will be the starting point for Kakao Mobility to enter the global market, as we move ‘beyond Korea,'” Ryu Geung-sun, CEO of Kakao Mobility, told a conference. online press.

Ryu said the company will expand its taxi service, currently available in several countries including Japan and Vietnam, to more than 120 countries.

Users will be able to order a taxi in the US or Hong Kong on the Kakao T app and make payment with a pre-registered debit or credit card.

For international users traveling to Korea, the company plans to launch an English version mobility app.

Besides the taxi business, Kakao Mobility will target overseas markets by investing in global mobility companies and creating synergy with its mobility technology.

“There are a handful of mobility platforms that have entered the global market – for example, Socar in Malaysia, and Tada and Tmap in Vietnam. But their business is limited to taxi service,” Ryu said.

Unlike other platforms, Kakao Mobility handles a full stack of mobility activities, from creating maps to designing a road network, providing a routing engine and connecting drivers and users , added Ryu.

The company also operates a transportation management system based on cloud computing technology that supports efficient data management and storage in logistics, which leaves more room to forge partnership with global companies, according to Ryu. .

Kakao Mobility will also accelerate its future mobility activities – autonomous driving, high-definition mapping and urban air mobility.

The company seeks to use HD mapping in autonomous driving and other location-based services, creating a digital twin infrastructure that accurately transports people and transport objects.

Ryu said Kakao Mobility is taking innovative steps in developing a control platform for an autonomous delivery robot, citing its latest partnership with robotics startup Neubility.

Ryu said they plan to solve mismatch issues between taxi drivers and passengers by improving the Kakao T app. Artificial intelligence helps connect with drivers who frequently accept calls, and in case failure, the application calls the drivers with the fastest estimated time of arrival.

Amid criticism that Kakao Mobility is taking hefty commissions from Kakao T drivers, the company said it would inject some 50 billion won ($41 million) to improve their working conditions.

The fund will provide additional incentives to taxi drivers who have suffered a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryu said Kakao Mobility also plans to engage in other corporate responsibility efforts.

Hoping to contribute to the country’s commitment to carbon neutrality, the company will accelerate green mobility by creating a platform for owners of electric vehicles and promote electric taxis.

“By this year, we plan to increase the number of electric taxis to 10,000,” Ryu said, citing that one electric taxi reduces 10 tons of carbon per year.

In addition, two external committees will respectively oversee Kakao Mobility’s sustainability efforts and the credibility of taxi-taking algorithms.

Founded in 2015, Kakao Mobility offers navigation, taxi and bicycle rental services.

By Byun Hye-jin ([email protected])