SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore-headquartered Grab launched a trial of its ride-hailing services in Myanmar on Tuesday, aiming to expand to a seventh Southeast Asian country, while rival Uber Technologies Inc said it was also looking to enter the market shortly.
Grab is working with a small group of taxi drivers in a trial in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, and would increase in scale gradually, the company said.
“As a start, we will focus on improving driver service and safety standards for taxis in Yangon,” Grab group marketing VP Cheryl Goh said in a statement. “We have deep experience in using data analytics to better match taxi drivers to passengers, and have robust driver screening and training processes to ensure that our driver partners provide a safe and quality service.”
Goh noted that ride-hailing and using smartphones to book taxis is “still a relatively new concept in Yangon.”
Myanmar would add to Grab’s other regional operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Its US rival Uber operates worldwide.
Uber, in a separate statement the same day, said it was “very pleased with the progress we have made towards a partnership with the government in Yangon and look forward to introducing our ridesharing technology in the country very soon.”
Expansion into Myanmar comes as authorities work to improve public transport, having for the first time introduced regular bus lines, timetables and salaries for drivers.
(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Christopher Cushing)