By Natalie Southwick
The taxi app wars are hotting up in Asia.
Last week, mobile cab-calling app Easy Taxi announced it had raised $40 million in a fourth round of funding, allowing it to increase its presence in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The app is currently in use in 162 cities in 32 countries worldwide, the majority of them in Latin America and Asia, and has more than 185,000 drivers in its network. The app, which already has well over 1.5 million downloads, is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.
Last year saw a major roll-0ut in Southeast Asia in the second half of 2013 as EasyTaxi attempted to get the jump on competing ride-hailing services like Uber and GrabTaxi. In Asia, Easy Taxi is currently operating in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Pakistan.
Easy Taxi, created by Brazilian Tallis Gomes in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, has been one of the most successful taxi-calling apps in emerging market countries, where calling a cab is often an issue of safety rather than pure convenience.
Easy Taxi has announced it intends to use this new funding to expand in these markets, as well as its newest countries in Africa.
“The expertise of our new investors aligns with our ambition to further increase our market share in Asia and consolidate our leadership in Latin America,” said co-CEO Dennis Wang.
The app, launched by Berlin-based incubator Rocket Ventures, has raised $77 million to date.
The timing of this funding is fortunate for Easy Taxi, which is facing unprecedented threats to its market dominance. Unlike in the United States or United Kingdom — where the taxi-hailing market is crowded with apps like Hailo, Uber and Lyft — Latin America and Asia have been slower to develop similar products, though other apps like GrabTaxi (Southeast Asia) and SaferTaxi (South America) have been growing in popularity in the last few years.
The most significant threat to Easy Taxi’s supremacy in these markets comes from U.S.-based ridesharing juggernaut Uber, which has embarked on an ambitious plan to expand into a number of emerging markets. The company, which does not deal exclusively with taxis but rather contracts vehicles and drivers for private transportation, has faced ferocious opposition from taxi drivers, unions and even politicians from London to Bogotá, who say Uber’s structure undercuts business for cab drivers and weakens unions.
Easy Taxi, which does work with registered cab drivers, has not faced the same resistance. However, it may need all the help it can get, as companies like Uber — currently valued at $18.2 billion — and Lyft continue to expand into what had until now been its exclusive territory.
The original version of this article appeared on LatinCorrespondent.com