German taxi app Mytaxi overcomes regulatory dispute in Washington

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Mytaxi, the taxi-ordering app that hails from Germany and launched in Washington DC a year ago, has settled a dispute with the DC Taxicab Commission that could have seen it lose business in the city.

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Part of Mytaxi’s appeal is its mobile payment feature, enabling users to pay without cash or cards. This feature was endangered when the Commission passed a regulation requiring all taxis to accept credit card payments and other non-cash payments, but preventing the manual entry of fare information into the Mytaxi app. The new regulation was set to come into action at the end of August this year.

Mytaxi claimed that the regulation would restrict its business, impairing its ability to process payments. However, according to a company statement released today, the app has been able to overcome this by receiving pre-approval as a digital dispatch service (DDS) from the Commission – meaning it can still use its payment system and bill users’ credit cards.

The regulation has been adjusted to allow taxis to use their own payment systems, providing they meet the Commission’s approval. Mytaxi is now working with the Commission to try and gain full approval.

To celebrate the preliminary approval, Mytaxi is providing an incentive for DC taxi drivers to use its service by giving away 2,000 free smartphones with data plans to drivers.

While Mytaxi is in a heavily competitive market – in the US, it’s up against Taxi Magic, Hailo and luxury car service Uber, which has also rolled out a cheaper taxi version called UberX – it may get one up on the competition by collaborating with Car2Go, Daimler’s car-sharing service that has invested in Mytaxi. Car2Go already has a large market share in the US, plus if the two bring the taxi-ordering and car-sharing service into one app, users could be tempted by the more convenient option.

So far, Mytaxi has been reportedly downloaded over seven million times in six countries, with over 35,000 drivers connected to the app. It has received funding from T-Venture (Deutsche Telekom), Car2Go, KfW Bankengruppe, Cinco Capital GmbH (Lars Hinrichs’ investment arm) and e42 GmbH.

Image credit: Flickr user Henrique Vicente

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