Travel tech this week: Ride-hailing companies grow and expand worldwide

Ride-hailing companies worldwide are having a moment recently. With investments poured into companies to fuel growth and expansion as well as drivers’ fear of coronavirus.

Wheely plans to raise USD 30 million

“Luxury” alternative to Uber plans to raise USD 30 million to fuel its expansion overseas. The start-up currently operates across three European markets – London, Paris and Moscow.

Founder and CEO Anton Chirkunov said that it is seeking extra funding next year to expand into either the US or Asia. The company has its sights on three major cities in America — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — and four across Asia — Tokyo, Seoul, Osaka and Shanghai. It is allotting USD 10 million on each new city expansion.

Grab raises USD 850 million for fintech

Singaporean unicorn Grab just secured a USD 850 million investment from investors to boost its digital payments and financial services.

Japan’s largest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MBFJF), put up more than USD 700 million, with the rest coming from TIS, a Japanese IT solutions company. So far, Grab has secured more or less USD 1 billion to achieve its super app ambitions.

“Ensuring greater access to affordable and accessible financial services and products is key to growing financial inclusion in Southeast Asia,” Grab president Ming Maa said.

Uber drivers avoid airport pick up because of coronavirus

Due to fears or coronavirus and lack of guidelines from Uber, some drivers are taking the matter into their own hands by avoiding picking up passengers from airports, cutting down their hours, and cleaning their cars more frequently.

US health officials have warned companies to operate under the assumption that an outbreak could occur in the United States in the near future.

Drivers said they haven’t heard any official communication from Uber about best practices for avoiding transmission or how the company planned to act in the case of an outbreak.

Spin is coming to Europe

Electric scooter company Spin is expanding beyond the US. Reports claimed that the company is launching its electric scooter rental service in Cologne, Germany this Spring, with launches in other German cities planned to follow.

However, the scooter-sharing company will face stiff competition when it launches in Germany. In Cologne alone, Spin will be competing against three other ride-sharing companies; Bird, Lime, and Circ.

Beyond Germany, the company is also interested in entering other European markets and has reportedly applied for a permit to operate in France. Although it is also exploring ways of entering the British market, this will be difficult while electric scooters remain illegal for use on public roads in the country. There are indications the law could be changed in the UK, but for now, the plans are in their preliminary stages.

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