November 15, 2019 / 12:59 PM / 24 days ago

Siberian taxi firm bringing fare-haggling to Moscow plans expansion

FILE PHOTO: People hail taxis near the exit of Park Kultury metro station during a train service disruption in Moscow March 29, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Siberian ride-hailing firm that allows customers to haggle over their fares is investing to beef up its presence in Moscow, a market dominated by New York-listed internet giant Yandex (YNDX.O) and Uber (UBER.N), its founder said.

InDriver, which is available in 28 countries chiefly in Central Asia and Latin America, plans to spend up to $10 million over the next two years to expand its presence in the sprawling Russian capital, its head and founder Arsen Tomsky told Reuters.

Unlike its competitors that offer fixed rates, inDriver allows customers themselves to propose a fare for their journey. Drivers can then either accept or reject the price, or make a counter offer.

The Moscow market for online taxi services is fiercely competitive and Yandex.Taxi, Russia’s largest online taxi service, is currently planning an initial public offering (IPO).

InDriver currently holds less than 2% of the Moscow taxi market, with Yandex.Taxi and Uber together accounting for more than 70%, data from Moscow’s transport department showed.

Tomsky said inDriver, whose strongest customer base is in Siberia and Russia’s Far East, had carried out 1 million rides a day globally in November. In contrast, Yandex.Taxi conducts more than 3 million a day, according to VTB Capital data.

“We can see that seven out of 10 Muscovites haven’t heard about us,” Tomsky said. “This means we have to invest much more in Moscow. This will significantly increase our market share.”

InDriver does not disclose its revenue, but Tomsky said it planned to see its gross merchandise volume (GMV), a measure of sales, reach up to $1 billion this year.

In 2018 its GMV stood at $350 million, a figure Tomsky expects to grow by between 2.5 and 3 times every year over the next five years.

Reporting by Nadezhda Tsydenova; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Jan Harvey

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