Text by Zi Mo
Early this year, Chinese cab driversand riders received a specialNew Year gift: On January 10,Didi Taxi, a taxi hailing app,announced it would reward passengers10 yuan for paying cab fare with WeChatPayment up to three times daily, and givecabdrivers the same amount, up to fivetimes a day, in 32 Chinese cities. Severaldays later, another taxi hailing app, Kuaidi,partnered with Alipay to offer a similarincentive, creating a battle between China’stwo most popular taxi hailing apps.
Liu Yu, an employee of a Beijing realestate company, travels daily to a housingfund management center or a bank to helpclients with loan affairs. “I usually take ataxi on such errands,” he explains. “Becauseboth places are near my company,a single trip costs only 4 or 5 yuan after deductingthe 10 yuan rebate. So, I’ll happilyuse the app’s incentive as long as possible.”
Taxi drivers stand to benefit even more.“I use both apps,” one driver revealed.“With them, I can earn about 100 yuan ofextra income a day from 10 deals, whichworks out to more than 3,000 yuan amonth, a sum almost equal to what I usedto earn in a month.”
The ubiquity of the mobile internetand smartphones is changing traditionalways of hailing a cab. A quick click on asmartphone app not only eases strandedpassengers’ despair while they futilely attemptto secure a cab during rush hour, butalso reduces drivers’ downtime. Accordingto the Didi Taxi manager in Hangzhou,about a quarter of the city’s 17,000 cabdriversnow completely depend on taxi hailingapps to find fares.......