When it comes to cab-hailing services, Kakao Taxi reigns supreme in Korea with an 80% market share. The size of the taxi market in South Korea is over $7 billion. Therefore there is plenty of room for Korean cab-hailing startups to enter the space. Kakao Taxi has been around since 2015, and it lets passengers get connected with a taxi through the app. Only taxi drivers are allowed to operate within the service which makes it different from Uber. Currently, ride-sharing in Korea is only allowed during peak rush hours (7-9 am) and 6-8 pm). Many taxi drivers in Korea feel Kakao Taxi takes too much money from consumers and taxi drivers.

President Yoon made a pledge to create a cab-hailing platform through government financing. However, Seoul already tried to launch its own cab-hailing app in 2017 and 2019 but was unsuccessful because it could not attract enough taxi drivers to use the app.

While the Korean government might not have the solution, up-and-coming Korean cab-hailing startups are looking to revolutionize the ride-hailing industry in Korea. Can they take on Kakao Mobility? Only time will tell.

Korean Cab-Hailing Startups

Kornatus (Banbantaxi)

banban TaxiKorean mobility startup Kornatus is a taxi-sharing service that offers riders an opportunity to split their fares. Kornatus already got a regulatory exemption from the Korean government as part of its regulatory sandbox program. The sandbox program allows for the development of new technologies or innovative services. Now taxi commuters in Seoul can share their taxi rides and split the costs. Therefore, the startup can now operate its taxi-sharing service in some parts of Seoul. In addition, they will only operate during peak night hours between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Users can download the Kornatus app called Banbantaxi and hail a cab by paying 4,000 won (6,000 won after midnight). However, if two customers are within 1 kilometer of each other, the taxi will make a slight change to its original route to pick up the additional passenger. In addition, the app will accept payments only through preregistered cards. The riders can then split the fare.

So far Kornatus has gotten $4 million in funding from SparkLab Ventures, BonAngels Venture Partners, SK Gas, and Seoul Business Agency just to name a few.

KST Mobility

Korean Cab Hailing StartupsKST Mobility runs Macaron Taxi which hires traditional cab drivers and gives them salaries. It applies AI technology and big data analytics for the app to make more precise bookings for maximum efficiency. It currently has a fleet of over 10,000 taxis. They partnered with Uber for the International Taxi Service for foreigners in Korea.

COACTUS

COACTUSCOACTUS is the creator of Goyohan Taxi which offers jobs for the hearing impaired. Goyohan Taxi’s are all installed with tablets in the front for the drier and in the back for the passenger. Passengers give their destinations to the driver by writing or typing on their tablets. Payments are made by clicking a button on the tablet. In addition, COACTUS helps people with hearing difficulties quality for the taxi driver test. Therefore, Goyohan Taxi offers new job opportunities to those with hearing disabilities. COACTUS sells its tablet PC installed with the Goyohan Taxi app to a state-run agency that specializes in supporting the disabled and taxi firms receive government subsidies for hiring the hearing impaired.