Why Chinese Ride-Hailing App is Booming… in Latin America

Latin America
An outdoor screen showing advertisement of DiDi Chuxing is seen in Chile’s capital Santiago, Aug. 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Jorge Villegas)

CARTAGENA, Colombia (Xinhua) — Chinese ride-hailing app DiDi credits part of its success in Latin America on similarities between the region and China, senior executive at the company Tony Qiu has said.

Both Latin America and China have populous cities and people of both sides are struggling with similar social issues, including traffic congestion and a wage gap, said Qiu, chief operating officer of Didi’s international business group.

“Not everyone has the capacity to buy their own car. That is why some products that work well in China can benefit this region,” Qiu said at the International Information and Communication Technologies Congress held in the Colombian city of Cartagena last week.

China was this year’s guest nation at the conference, during which the Asian nation showcased its latest in information and communication technologies.

“We have presence in more than 1,000 Latin American cities, most of them (are) Brazilian, and we serve about 18 million registered users monthly,” Qiu said.

“At the beginning of 2018, our business entered the Brazilian market and we purchased the local (ride-share) company ’99.’ Some months later we entered Mexico, and this year Colombia and Chile,” he said.

A user tries app DiDi Chuxing in Chile’s capital Santiago, Aug. 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Jorge Villegas)

“We believe Latin America is a market with great potential. The region has some 650 million inhabitants and a relatively fast pace of development,” he said.

While regional similarities helped the company grow in the region, DiDi had to adapt to meet new challenges, including a higher rate of street crime, Qiu said.

“We needed to invest a lot in geolocation to significantly reduce robbery against taxi drivers and abuse against female users, to ensure the safety of all population groups,” he said.

To that end, DiDi also incorporated facial recognition software, as well as other filters, in the process of driver registration.

“Every journey is monitored by our system. If the driver strays too far (from the established route) or (the drive) takes several hours without ending, or something happens, the security team calls the police. The team works 24 hours, 7 days a week,” Qiu said.

DiDi has expanded its range of services in keeping with user demands worldwide, including bike rental and food delivery. These services will gradually arrive in Latin America.

One of DiDi’s key goals is to establish cooperative ties with the governments of the countries where it operates, and with the sectors related to urban mobility.

“Before entering a new market, we do a lot of research. Generally speaking, Latin American governments have been supportive, because we share the same goals,” Qiu said.

The goals are “to have more passengers enjoy our services, drivers increase their income and local communities benefit from improved traffic conditions,” he said.

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