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Uber begins trial version of ride-hailing app in Kingdom

A screenshot of Uber’s app showing rides for hire in Phnom Penh.
A screenshot of Uber’s app showing rides for hire in Phnom Penh.

Uber begins trial version of ride-hailing app in Kingdom

Uber, the world’s biggest ride-hailing service, has launched a “test-mode” version of its smartphone application in Phnom Penh, bringing it a step closer to becoming the first international heavyweight to officially operate a ride-hailing service in the Kingdom.

A Post reporter booked and completed a ride in the capital using the Uber app yesterday, though the service appears currently only to be accessible to riders through a promotional code provided by the company, with trips provided free during the trial phase.

According to the receipt from the free trip, Uber charges a base fare of $1, with further charges levied according to the distance and duration of the trip. At the end of the trip, riders have the choice to pay the fare digitally from a bank account connected to the app, or in cash – a feature that Uber has made available in other cash-dominated markets.

US-based Uber operates ride-hailing services in over 570 cities worldwide, pairing passengers and drivers using the company’s smartphone app.

A driver, who spoke to The Post, said he had only picked up one rider through the Uber application as of yesterday, though the company had only confirmed his status as a registered Uber driver the day before.

The driver, whose sedan carried the markings of a local private taxi fleet, said he works for a taxi company and earns extra income as an independent contractor for various ride-hailing services, including Uber and Cambodian-owned Exnet Taxi.

Uber, which registered a local subsidiary in Cambodia in May, declined to comment on its activity in the Kingdom. However, the effort represents the company’s latest foray in Southeast Asia after the ride-hailing giant established operations in Myanmar earlier this year.

The company faces increased competition in the region from rival ride-hailing services, including Singapore-based Grab and Indonesia’s Go-Jek.

Uber representatives met with Transport Minister Sun Chanthol and municipal officials last April to discuss the company’s business model and local regulations, according to state officials.

Cambodia, like much of the world, does not have a specific law for ride-hailing platforms.

This article has been updated to confirm that the Uber ride was provided free as part of the company's local trial phase promotion. According to an Uber spokesperson, "Uber is carrying out free tests to selected users in Phnom Penh to ensure a smooth launch."

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