Tuesday 11 June 2019 1:00 am

Taxify relaunches in London under Bolt branding in challenge to Uber

The European ride-hailing firm formerly known as Taxify is today relaunching its services in London, two years on from being forced to halt rides in the capital.

The firm, which first entered the UK market in 2017 via the purchase of an existing private hire business, had its third-party licence suspended by Transport for London (TfL) just three days after its debut.

Now re-branded as Bolt, the Estonian startup is promising lower prices for users and higher pay for drivers in a bid to challenge Uber’s stranglehold on the market.

“We made some mistakes and we basically had to restart the application process with TfL, which we completed two weeks ago,” chief executive Markus Villig told City A.M.

Villig said Bolt had already toppled Uber’s monopoly in other European cities by being “as automated and as frugal as possible” in its operations.

“Ride-hailing is a very capital intensive business,” he added.

“We’re already the biggest European operator, and we’re ready to take the investments necessary to make [Bolt] successful in the London market.”

Unlike other tech startups, Bolt is planning to stay focused on Europe for now rather than chase expansion to the US.

“There’s so much room in Europe and Africa,” said Villig. “We’ll remain focused on these markets for the next five years to come.”

He said the firm has more than 20,000 drivers in London already wanting to sign up to the platform.

Backed by the likes of car giant Daimler and Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, Bolt has raised more than $185m (£145.8m) to date and is already valued at more than $1bn. The firm is currently in talks for another funding round, but Villig declined to expand further.