'Pwedeng tumawad?' Ride-hailing service InDrive lets you haggle fares

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 12 2023 08:00 AM | Updated as of Jun 13 2023 05:20 PM

Global mobility platform InDrive
Global mobility platform InDrive, known for allowing drivers and passengers to negotiate fares, eyes offering its ride-hailing services in the country. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - InDrive, a California-based mobility firm eyes launching its ride-hailing services soon in the Philippines betting on its unique business model of "haggling for fares" for growth, its founder and CEO Arsen Tomsky said.

Born out of the need to fight "unfair transport practices" in the small town of Yakutsk in Siberia, Russia, InDrive was meant to solve people's problem including price manipulation, Tomsky said during his recent visit to Manila.

To address these issues, the tech entrepreneur designed the platform to allow "freedom of choice" and flexibility by letting drivers and passengers negotiate or haggle for fares. 

When using the app, passengers need to pin their pick-up point and destination. The passenger and the driver then are allowed to negotiate the fare. Both have the freedom to negotiate, accept or turn down the transaction altogether. 

"Since the first day, we fight injustice...We give them [passengers] freedom of choice, they just need to type point A to B... you can choose by fare, distance, model of car and so on," he said.


Since its debut in 2012, InDrive now operates in 47 countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos. 

InDrive said in 2022, it was the second most downloaded mobility app next to Uber.

"People support us because they think it's more fair. It allowed us to build this business," he said.

As a country known for its "tingi" or sachet mentality as well as the haggling culture, there is potential for growth in the Philippines for InDrive.

He said InDrive is focused on emerging economies where there are injustices to solve. A test run was earlier conducted in the Philippines which made them more confident that the people would support the venture.

"We systematically look for injustice and we launch our businesses where we can fight it," he added.

There is no target number of drivers for hiring yet, Tomsky said, since it would depend on the slots it would get from LTFRB.

So far, InDrive has yet to acquire its license from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. But Tomsky said they have fulfilled the requirements. They're expecting a greenlight before September, followed by an official launch before the end of the year. 

He said the transport authorities seem "reasonable" in terms of licensing as well as the TNVS landscape in the Philippines. Competition, he said, is "good" for the people.

InDrive's commission is capped at under 10 percent, lower than that of other global players who charge from 20 to 60 percent in commission.

InDrive aims to "slowly" expand the business in the Philippines starting with ride-hailing. But the app itself offers other services in other markets including cargo and courier services, among others, he said.

The platform also doesn't spend much on marketing and is banking on organic growth. No discounts and incentives are also offered to keep the platform "transparent," he said. 

Growth is organic even without spending on marketing "because we give people something very important. We give them the fair and transparent model," Tomsky said.

Tomsky, who has a condition that makes him stutter, said he wants to be an inspiration to others who are like him. His condition is his "source of power," he said.

Because of that, he dedicated his life to supporting various causes such as the education of the underserved children. He said also uses his business to uplift the lives of many. 

Through InDrive, he aims to invest $100 million per year in various causes by 2030.

The LTFRB earlier said it would open 100,000 slots for transport network vehicle service (TNVS) to cater to the rising demand.


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