Kakao launches transportation subsidiary

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Kakao launches transportation subsidiary


Kakao Mobility, a spin-off of transportation-related service apps from Korea’s leading on-demand service provider Kakao, officially launched on Tuesday with ambitious goals for the latter half of the year.

The new subsidiary consists of taxi-hailing app Kakao Taxi, a designated-driver-calling app Kakao Driver and a navigation app Kakao Navi. New mobility service apps will be added, starting with a vacant parking lot notification service.

The spin-off was an attempt by Kakao to reap more profits from the mobility-related apps, which are free for customers to download.

Kakao Mobility is planning to add a corporate call-taxi service to Kakao Taxi in the third quarter, which could be profitable from the start.

In partnership with corporate customers, Kakao Taxi will offer a separate taxi-hailing service as well as payment and overall service management solutions. While employees currently have to save receipts after using taxis for work and charge the money to the company later, the Kakao Taxi app will enable employees to use taxis without paying and directly charge the fees to the company.

“This reduces administrative work for both employees and the company,” a spokesperson from Kakao said.

Kakao’s mobile payment service Kakao Pay will also be integrated with the taxi-hailing app so customers can pay for taxis automatically through the app rather than using their credit card or cash.

“This way the whole taxi process, from reservation to payment, can be done via a single Kakao Taxi app,” Kakao said in a statement.

The on-demand taxi app is also reaching out to global markets by inking partnerships. In May, the app signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan Taxi so customers from both Korea and Japan can use each other’s taxi-hailing service. According to Kakao, the partnership will enable 5 million Korean travelers annually to use the Kakao Taxi app in Japan.

In the fourth quarter, a new parking service app is scheduled to be launched. The app, likely to be called Kakao Parking, will connect drivers with empty lots near their destination, allowing drivers to book parking lots and also pay for the fee in the app.

Kakao Driver and Kakao Navi, which have been growing at a fast rate, will also upgrade their services to attract more users in the latter half, the company said.

“We will generate new value in the mobility business area and show continuous innovation in the global mobility markets represented by Uber, Didi Chuxing and Grab, as Korea’s leading mobility company,” said Chung Joo-hwan, head of Kakao Mobility.

In a bid to expand the company’s global presence, Chung, along with CEO Lim Ji-hoon of Kakao, met with executives of German carmaker Volkswagen last month to discuss cooperation in future businesses including internet-connected cars and autonomous cars.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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