Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

SoftBank-backed Ola launches in the United Kingdom to challenge Uber

SoftBank-backed Ola launches in the United Kingdom to challenge Uber

Homegrown ride-hailing unicorn Ola announced on Tuesday that it will foray into a second global market by launching services in the United Kingdom, taking its turf war with US-headquartered Uber to another territory. It has obtained licences to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester and will launch operations in South Wales within the next month.

In the UK, Ola will offer private vehicles for hire as well as black cabs on its platform, the statement said, adding that it will add more transportation options in the future.

ET recently reported that Ola is inching closer to profitability as it started making money on each cab ride, after taking into account expenses such as driver incentives and customer discounts.

Britain will be Ola's second worldwide market after it started operations in Australia in February.

"The UK is a fantastic place to do business and we look forward to providing a responsible, compelling, new service that can help the country meet its ever demanding mobility needs".

Ola claims to handle one billion rides each year globally, with more than one million drivers and 125 million customers in over 110 cities.

Like Uber, Ola operates a ride-hailing service through an app and relies on the availability of contracted drivers.

Both Ola and Uber share a major backer: Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank.

Uber, in March, made a decision to exit Southeast Asia, allowing it to focus on India.

It is now inviting private hire vehicles (PHV) and metered taxi drivers in Cardiff, Newport and Vale of Glamorgan to register on Ola for a commission rate of 10 percent for PHVs and 5 percent for metered taxis.

After Ola's lead investor, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, became the largest investor in Uber following a large secondary share purchase previous year, speculations were rife that Uber could eventually merge its India operations with Ola.

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