Cab aggregator Uber has officially launched operations in Myanmar’s key commercial centre Yangon. The entry of Uber in that market has been on cards for a while. Its Southeast Asian rival Grab also entered the market earlier this year and there are two local rivals without a significant scale.
Myanmar is a market ripe for app based cab aggregators as the internet penetration is good and transportation not so much. The government is working towards improving the public transportation network but the transportation is far from sufficient. According to local media, there are over 50,000 taxis in Yangon but many of them lack basic safety features and often fare metres.
In Myanmar, Uber is taking an approach that is usually not associated with the brand. The cab aggregator is known to often barge in and figure out how to work with regulators along the way. In most markets, it also started working with private vehicle owners with the exception of a few. In Myanmar, Uber is working with local taxi drivers and is signing up only government accredited drivers. This is similar to how Grab is working in the market.
The approach will reduce the friction it otherwise faces from regulators, local cab unions and other transportation providers. Uber also couldn’t carry credit card as a primary payment option as a very small fraction of the internet users have credit cards. Payments will be handled via cash or local bank transfers.
Currently Uber will be running just the Uber X service with local cabs. Other services might be added over time but there are no clear timelines.