ride-hailing industry

Angkas to Angcars? Here are the challengers to Grab’s ride-hailing dominance

Lance Spencer Yu

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Angkas to Angcars? Here are the challengers to Grab’s ride-hailing dominance
There are currently six approved transport network companies, with Angkas and possibly InDrive set to join them, but none have yet to truly challenge Grab

MANILA, Philippines – Motorcycle taxi app Angkas is readying to launch its own four-wheel ride-hailing service and become the next transport network company (TNC) to compete with Grab in the Philippines.

Besides its familiar black and blue motorcycle taxis, Angkas plans to enter as a four-wheel transport network vehicle service (TNVS) provider through its new app: “Angcars.”

“Angcars is designed to be an advanced ride-hailing app that seamlessly blends affordability with user-friendly navigation,” Angkas chief executive officer George Royeca said during a recent townhall.

What’s in the soon-to-be-launched app? Passengers can select from Angcars Economy and Angcars Plus to choose between four-seater and six-seater vehicles. More details are set to be announced soon, although the project is part of the company’s 2024 pipeline, an Angkas representative told Rappler.

Meanwhile, for the motorcycle taxi app, the company plans to launch Angkas Health and Angkas Padala. Angkas Health will bring a “straightforward five-step process” that allows a PRC-licensed medical professional to deliver healthcare services, such as blood testing, at home. Angkas Padala will cater to digital sellers, with payment and disbursement tools and a nationwide courier service.

Who else is challenging Grab?

Recall that before prospective drivers can operate their cars under a ride-hailing service, they have to secure accreditation from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, or LTFRB. They do this by applying through one of the TNCs for a slot as a TNVS operator. And it so happens that one TNC happens to hold the majority of TNVS slots: Grab.

Although Grab does not technically monopolize the ride-hailing service market, its operations dwarf that of other accredited TNCs. A few years back, the ride-hailing market in the Philippines was split mostly between Grab and Uber. But in 2018, Grab bought out Uber’s Southeast Asia operations, transforming the ride-hailing market in the Philippines from a duopoly to essentially a monopoly.

However, there are other approved TNCs in the country besides Grab, although their coverage may vary:

  • JoyRide
  • Toktok
  • E-Pick Me Up
  • Owto
  • Gojo

Perhaps the biggest challenger is motorcycle taxi provider JoyRide, which only began to offer car ride-hailing services in early 2022. JoyRide also recently announced its ambitious “Super Taxi” service, which would have the same fare as regular metered taxis but offer larger and more modern vehicles. JoyRide, of course, has strong roots in the motorcycle taxi market, like Angkas and Grab, which owns Move It.

Aside from the TNCs approved by the government, there are also other apps that have tried to take on Grab, but have faced challenges of their own. The latest one was inDrive, one of the largest international ride-hailing companies. inDrive recently obtained accreditation from the LTFRB and was set to launch in the country “soon,” only for the government to slap it with a suspension weeks later.

There was also Tara, an upcoming app that promised to be a “cost-effective Grab alternative.” But despite going viral, Tara has a long way to go as the app is still undergoing development, and the team behind it has yet to secure necessary government approvals.

Still, commuters have long sought for other options, so much so that some have resorted to using illegal ride-hailing apps. In early 2023, the LTFRB identified two unaccredited apps in particular that operate in the Philippines: Maxim and inDrive – the same app facing renewed legal roadblocks as it tries to get accredited.

The fact that Filipinos turned to these apps in the first place points to a lack of ride-hailing services – especially in the provinces – that even the LTFRB chairman acknowledged. Will the new players in the TNVS market manage to turn this around? – Rappler.com

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.