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Need a ride? There’s a new mobile-friendly option to get you from point A to B. SnappCab is a multi-platform hail-a-cab app to order, use and pay for metered cabs generally based on the user’s GPS location. The service is available on the web, Android, iOS and will be available on BlackBerry and Windows 8 very soon. Though competition in the space seems rife, what stands out most would most likely be SnappCab’s focus on multi-user functionality and platform friendliness.
You can exchange relevant details digitally while also being able to track the cab in real time. This is something similar to what Cape Town competitor Zapacab is offering. Users can either pay with cash or a credit card-linked account and rate the driver and SnappCab experience.
South Africa’s great appetite for cabs
According to Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) the taxi industry in South Africa supports 65% of public commuters.
As SnappCab founder Anton van Metzinger further points out, the need for public transport as a more viable option is becoming increasingly attractive in South Africa. Public services such as Gautrain and MyCiti reinforce the fact that there is a massive pent-up demand for good quality public transport in South Africa, he notes.
Van Metzinger also says that there are “many structural factors pushing the public to increased metered cab usage”. Some examples tilting cab popularity in its favour include issues such as congestion, toll fees, increased use of parking fees in suburbs and spatial planning dynamics which sees continuous reduction in parking spaces per total employees in new office buildings.
“We think this app will provide an efficient, convenient, fun and safe means of hailing a cab,” says van Metzinger.
Not to mention the assistance Snappcab’s support for the cab industry will provide to national and local government. Van Metzinger hopes that SnappCab’s driver rating and review feature will help governments in their anti-drinking and driving campaigns.
“We believe over time we will also help catalyse improvement of quality standards and convergence (and even lowering) of prices within the metered cab industry.” Van Metzinger further says that the company aims to create “a single brand for metered cab usage nationally.”
While many South Africans don’t have smartphones, Snapcab also offers customised driver devices to cab drivers which is similar to Zapacab. Each associated driver receives a Huawei G510 smartphone.
It’s going to be interesting seeing how SnappCab competes in the future. In addition to Zapacab, major international private driver service Uber has already set-up shop in Johannesburg and recently rolled-out in the Mother City.
SnappCab launched in April this year and the product launch followed soon after on 15 September. SnappCab has gained first round funding through its founders, namely Daniel Voros, Eric Crawford, Robert Oswald, Anton van Metzinger, David Storey, Nathan Sasto. The latter three are the major stakeholders. The company was also supported by its software developer startup collaborator namely VelvetAnt.
Additionally, second round funding was secured through Gauteng’s Innovation Hub which aims to support the growth of innovative companies across sectors such as ICT, biosciences, green technologies and industrials.
In terms of revenue, SnappCab uses a commission earning system via the associated cab companies (currently Rainbow Cabs, Citycab SA and Zebra Cabs) or drivers for every trip that they source through the SnappCab channel. These commissions vary dependent on whether it is a credit card or cash trip while passengers are also encouraged using credit cards through SnapMiles.
Expansion and competition heating up
While the market indicators for success suggest growing potential, competition has been heating up and has begun mushrooming across South Africa and other emerging markets.
With SnappCab currently in beta launch in Johannesburg central, it’s planning on launching in Cape Town and Durban this coming summer with next-tier cities to come soon after. Considering future ventures, more English-speaking cities across Africa are also potentially up for grabs.
Though in Cape Town, Zapacab already signed-up four cab companies from the city and is planning on expanding to Durban and Johannesburg as soon as the Cape Town network is up-and-running.
Van Metzinger argues that some of SnappCab’s outstanding features include is its ability to launch nationally within a tight time-frame and its commitment to technical and customer support.
SnappCab standout features
SnappCab founder further notes, however, the fact that the product is multi-platform and that it has rich functionality will likely make it stand out from the current competition. Van Metzinger argues SnappCab’s ability to load group and family accounts using a credit card-linked account and the team’s strong commitment to technical and customer support will further drive it to success.
The fact that passengers have the option of using either cash or credit card is considered being one of the greatest stand out features. Passengers and drivers don’t have to carry around wads of cash any more, a feature also offered by Uber. Van Metzinger notes that Uber is good for the South African industry in setting the bar and proving the concept locally. In terms of competition, he further notes the following:
“What sets us apart I think will be the broader options we afford consumers– both in terms of the number of vehicles contracted to us as well as what consumers may do with the product … We think the South African public will like the fact that our product is world class, but is home grown and has an SA feel to it.”