London taxi wars: Taxify is taking on Uber and black cabs with imminent launch of Estonian startup's rival ride-hailing app

Lynsey Barber
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Another ride-hailing app is planning to launch soon in London (Source: Taxify)

London looks set for a fresh battle on the roads as a new ride hailing startup sets its sights on the city, taking on Uber and the famous black taxis in the capital.

Taxify, an Estonian-founded startup which runs ride-hailing via an app in 15 countries in Eastern Europe and Africa, has applied to Transport for London - the city’s transport regulator - for a license to operate in the capital and started hunting for drivers.

It’s the latest challenger to throw itself into the already crowded and rather volatile ring in London, where traditional cabbies, Uber and TfL remain in a years-long row over operations of old and new services.

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Taxify has started signing drivers up to the app, providing training for some, but has yet to launch, telling potential drivers that it will be up and running this year. But City A.M. understands it could be as soon as the next few weeks. The Taxify app is available to download in the UK and presents a London map, however, it notifies users that it “launches services in London soon”.

It will attempt to undercut Uber by taking a lower commission from drivers, leaving them with more cash in their pockets. Taxify has told potential drivers it will match Uber on fares but it will take a cut of 15 per cent as standard. Uber takes 25 per cent commission and faced criticism over raising it from 20 per cent in the past.

Taxify incorporated a UK business in March, according to Companies House records, giving an East London address as its location. Co-founder Markus Villig and expansion manager Matej Benuska, were originally named as directors.

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Taxify was founded by Villig and his brother Martin in 2013 and has more than 1m customers in 19 countries. It has raised around $2m from investors, just a fraction of the billions which have been ploughed into Uber

In London, Taxify could face bigger costs than it might have originally expected with the prospect of higher licensing charges being introduced by TfL. The regulator has proposed a shake up of costs that could land Uber with an additional £2m bill.

And there is also the prospect of a limit on the number of private hire vehicles (PHVs), or minicabs, in the capital. London mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the government to give him the power to cap their numbers.

The addition of another cab company in the capital could add to existing fears that the growing number of PHVs on London's roads is adding to pollution and traffic congestion in the city.

Taxify did not comment on the expansion plans.

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