Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah (second from right) launching Dacsee on Tuesday. With him are Alexander Von Kaldenberg and Lim Chiew Shan. PIC BY ROHANIS SHUKRI

A NEW ride-sharing platform, known as Decentralised Alternative Cabs Serving and Empowering Everyone (Dacsee), will officially launch its mobile application in Malaysia in April.

Dacsee was launched in Thailand on Dec 22 and will be expanded to China soon.

Its chief executive officer, Alexander Von Kaldenberg, is optimistic about Dacsee’s potential in Malaysia, where it has been aggressively promoting the service since its launch on Tuesday.

Dacsee chief operating officer Lim Chiew Shan claims that the service’s network has grown to about 4,800 people, most of whom are potential drivers for Dacsee.

Unlike other e-hailing apps, which charge drivers commissions of up to 30 per cent, Dacsee takes a minimal one to two per cent cut from drivers’ e-wallet accounts.

Dacsee is also different from other e-hailing apps in that it encourages drivers to recruit other drivers as their downline, similar to the multi-level marketing system, to earn higher commissions. It is understandable that a new player would want to be innovative to gain market share, but the service should not be too complicated for drivers and passengers.

Upon reading the report on this new ride-sharing platform, I assumed that it would be similar to Tripda, a ride-sharing app from Brazil launched in Malaysia in September 2014, and allowed those travelling outstation to share rides and costs.

But, globally, carpooling did not take off as ride-hailing for private rides. Tripda shut down in March 2016 as it failed to meet high operating costs.

Uber, too, started as a ride-sharing app called UberCab, in 2009 and allowed passengers to share rides and costs in the same Black Car Limousine, until UberX
was introduced in 2012 for passengers to hail rides in private cars.

But Uber continued to call its service ride-sharing instead of ride-hailing, and those who could not distinguish between the two continued to use the wrong term.

In Malaysia, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) used the term e-hailing.

Grab has now ventured into many businesses, but its core service is e-hailing, allowing passengers to hail a private car or taxi or share rides with other passengers through GrabShare.

If Dacsee is a taxi app, it should not be called a ride-sharing platform and this should be made clear by promoters and the media. There are 20 taxi apps in the market.

Charging minimal or zero commission would appeal to taxi drivers, but not for passengers as long as charges by Uber or Grab are lower.

No new start-ups would be able to replicate what Uber has trail blazed over the past few years, as authorities were caught flatfooted at the time.

Globally, Uber passengers paid only 42 per cent of the fare on average, and losses for the company amounted to almost US$3 billion (RM11.8 billion) in 2016 and more than US$3.3 billion for the first nine months of last year. By then, accumulated losses had surpassed US$10 billion.

Its investors had been hoping for a hugely successful initial public offering (IPO), as the company’s valuation skyrocketed 1,133 times from US$60 million in 2011 to US$68 billion by December 2015.

The IPO is a long way off, as the perceived value of the company tumbled after the European Court of Justice ruled on Dec 20 that Uber was a transport company and must therefore comply with the region’s transport rules.

If Dacsee wishes to offer private cars just like Uber and Grab, it will need to obtain an Intermediation Business Licence from SPAD in Peninsular Malaysia and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board in Sabah and Sarawak.

In any case, it has to be clear about its business model to get support from Malaysians.

Y.S. CHAN

Kuala Lumpur

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