Uber, Yandex Ride-Sharing Services Can Merge in Russia, Regulator Rules

Uber, Yandex Ride-Sharing Services Can Merge in Russia, Regulator Rules

Uber and Yandex’s ride-sharing businesses can merge in Russia, anti-monopoly regulator FAS ruled on Friday, but stipulated that the combined company not bar drivers from working for competitors.

Uber and Yandex, often referred to as the “Google of Russia”, announced plans in July to combine operations in 127 cities in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

San Francisco-based Uber has agreed to invest $225 million (roughly Rs. 1,454 crores) while Yandex will contribute $100 million (roughly Rs. 647 crores) into a new joint company in which Yandex will own 59.3 percent.

The two companies must allow their partners, drivers and passengers to work for or use competitors’ services and fully inform users of the legal entity providing the service, the FAS said in a statement.

Yandex said consumers would be able to use both Yandex.Taxi and Uber apps, while their driver apps will be integrated, leading to shorter passenger wait times, increased driver utilisation rates, and higher service reliability.

The companies aim to close the deal in January 2018, after the New Year holidays in Russia, Yandex said in a statement.

Moscow-listed Yandex was up 3.47 percent as of 11:23am GMT.

It said the anti-monopoly regulator in Belarus had also approved the deal while a decision by the Kazakh regulator was pending.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

PM Modi Launches Umang App to Provide Multiple Citizen-Centric Services Under One Roof

PM Modi Launches Umang App to Provide Multiple Citizen-Centric Services Under One Roof

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Umang app is available for both Android and iOS platforms
  • The app gives access to tons of e-governance services
  • There is Aadhaar-based authentication

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched a unified app to serve e-governance through mobile devices. Called Umang (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance), the app is developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) to offer services of the central, state, local bodies, and various government agencies right on Android and iOS based mobile devices. The new offering had emerged on the sidelines of the fifth Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) in New Delhi.

“Today, we launched the Umang Mobile App, which will provide over a hundred citizen-centric services. At the back-end, these services will be catered for by many different departments of the Union and State Governments. This integrated approach will add an automatic layer of ‘peer performance pressure’, in the working of these departments,” Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the audience at GCCS.

The Umang app bundles a list of Digital India services, including Aadhaar, DigiLocker, and PayGov. Additionally, the app provides citizens with all the major government services provided through app, web, SMS, and IVR channels. In terms of e-governance, citizens can use the Umang app to access their income tax filing, LPG cylinder bookings, and Provident Fund account. Parents can also use the Umang app to access CBSE results. It has multilingual support with as many as 10 Indian languages in addition to Hindi and English and includes a payment-based transaction access.

Unlike any third-party apps to access e-governance services, the Umang app supports Aadhaar and other authentication mechanisms such as your phone number and location to give you single-point ubiquitous access to all government services.

You need to register your identity to start using the Umang app. The registration process begins with an OTP (one-time password) that will be generated to your provided mobile number. You’ll also need to choose a couple of security questions and fill in their answers that will help you recover the Umang account. Once you’ve completed the registration, the app will ask you to set an MPIN that will be used alongside your mobile number to access the app.

Also, the Umang app has social media integration that allows you to connect your Facebook, Google, and Twitter accounts and enable one-touch login process.

The interface of the Umang app appears to be convenient for novices. Similarly, the app comes with features like favourites and push notification alerts to help you leverage the benefits of e-governance in the country. There is a support option available on the app to help citizens reach experts for their doubts related to the app or its listed services. However, that option didn’t connect us with one of the agents at the time of our testing.

The Umang app is compatible with devices running Android 4.4 and above and iOS 8.0 and later. Moreover, you can give a missed call on 97183-97183 to get the app download link on your number.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Lyft Expands Services Across 32 US States

Lyft Expands Services Across 32 US States

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The move boosts the number of states with full coverage to 40
  • Uber says it has near-statewide coverage in 13 states
  • For Lyft, the expansion is a bold move into unserved areas and a gamble

Lyft is driving into the countryside in an effort to raise ridership and steal market share from rival Uber.

The much smaller Lyft announced Thursday that it is offering service to passengers in every corner of 32 US states, including hard-to-reach rural areas. The move boosts the number of states with full coverage to 40.

Uber, which controls about 70 percent of the US ride-hailing market, says it has near-statewide coverage in 13 states. A spokeswoman was skeptical that any company could provide timely service in all areas within a state’s boundaries.

For Lyft, the expansion is a bold move into unserved areas and a gamble that it can carve new markets out of even the most rural areas that have ride-hailing needs but no consistent service. Until now, using a smartphone to summon a ride mainly was reserved for larger metropolitan areas with a lot of people and more potential riders.

Jaime Raczka, regional director of new markets for Lyft, said the initiative will allow the company to outmatch its rivals in terms of coverage area and the number of people with access to its platform. Before Thursday, 79 percent of the US population could get Lyft service. With Thursday’s move, that number rises to 94 percent, she said.

To pull off the expansion, Lyft has been recruiting new drivers for months, many in smaller towns that weren’t previously served. The company wouldn’t say how many drivers it has added, only that it has about 700,000 nationwide.

Currently Lyft has statewide service in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Delaware and Hawaii. As of Thursday it added Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Lyft has at least some coverage in all 50 states, and decided to offer full coverage in the 40 that have consistent statewide ride-hailing regulations, Raczka said. The company said it will even offer rides in the most rural expanses of Alaska and the far reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Just how long it takes to get a ride will vary by area. She wouldn’t give an average response time or fare estimate for rural areas, but conceded that initially it may take more than 10 minutes to get a ride in remote places. Those who have important trips such as traveling to an airport to catch a flight might want to use Lyft’s scheduled ride service if it’s available, she said.

In New York, where Lyft has had statewide service since June, the company’s app showed few cars in the Finger Lakes region late Wednesday night. In Corning, a small town near the Pennsylvania border, the closest Lyft ride was 74 miles and more than an hour away in Binghamton. The app gave no estimate of a pickup time like it does in urban areas.

Raczka says experience has shown that as people find out about the service, they summon more rides and more drivers usually follow. “We do improve service levels once we get into markets,” she said.

Uber says is has close to statewide coverage is in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. Spokeswoman MoMo Zhou questioned whether Lyft would have drivers available for rides in areas with low demand.

There’s clearly a market for ride services in rural areas, especially from people who are older, disabled or injured, said Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey. Until it becomes established, Lyft will have to pay drivers extra to fetch passengers in rural areas, generating some big losses, he said.

“That will allow them to gain market share, but it’s not going to be free,” Ramsey said.

He expects demand to grow and eventually pay off for Lyft. “There are a lot of people who need mobility, and especially in rural communities, don’t have access to it,” he said. “Demand comes from the supply, and vice versa.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Drivers’ union plans to launch cab services next month

An Uber driver uses the app to navigate the often congested streets of Bangalore.

An Uber driver uses the app to navigate the often congested streets of Bangalore.(NYT)

Some members of cab aggregators  Ola and Uber, who have formed a drivers’ union, plan to launch its services next month with the help of Kolkata-based  technology startup which owns TYGR app.

“We plan to launch our cab services in the month of  August with the help of Savetur Digital Private Limited, which owns TYGR app,” former Uber, TaxiForSure and Ola Drivers And  Owners Association President Tanveer Pasha told PTI here.

“We want to give a local name to the app. Something  like “Namma TYGR” or “Namma Huli”, are some of the names we are planning on,” he added.

In the next three days, union members and Savetur officials are scheduled to meet at the residence of former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to finalise the deal, including the launching date and signing of documents, Pasha said.

He said Savetur would run and manage the business  according to a model drafted by drivers’ union, which would satisfy both drivers and riders.

However, the union will control and supervise Savetur  through their company, which is in the process of registering  its name as Huli Technologies.

It plans to expand to Mysuru, Mangaluru and Belagavi after the Bengaluru launch, Pasha said.

The company will focus on driver benefits, including a 10% commission charged for drivers, besides insurance and family benefits, among other incentives, he said.

The company plans to raise Rs 12 crore to run and sustain business at the initial stages and many investors have shown keen interest to pick stake in the company, Pasha said.

He said the company aims to give Rs five lakh worth of life insurance, Rs five lakh accident insurance and Rs two lakh medical insurance to the drivers annually.

The company plans to have three to four car categories  that will show up on the “Namma TYGR” app, the name of which  could be changed,which includes a mini, hatchback option at Rs 12.50 per km, a Rs 14.5 per km, a sports sedan option at utility vehicle option at Rs 18.50 per km and an outstation  cab option, Pasha said.

The company also plans to set up five private patrol  security cars to attend to drivers’ problems of facing drunk  riders travelling late at night.

“The private patrol car will help drivers during medical and legal emergencies,” he added.

The idea originated when the drivers had gone on strike  in February against cab aggregators, demanding better  incentives and stopping attachment of new cabs which they said affects bookings.

[“Source-hindustantimes”]