The tug of war between Kakao Mobility and Korean taxi drivers entered the second round. According to industry sources, taxi drivers and SK Telecom are planning to develop a taxi allocation app.
Currently, 96% of South Korean taxi drivers use the Kakao Taxi service of Kakao Mobility. The new app is likely to result in competition between Kakao Mobility and the drivers.
Their relationship began to crack in February this year, when Kakao Mobility acquired Luxi, a carpool service provider. Earlier, Kakao Mobility developed a carpool service for better commuting but postponed its release for coexistence with taxi drivers.
Then, the drivers declared on August 28 that every carpool app is illegal, and negotiations between Kakao Mobility and the drivers and the government ended in a stalemate. In addition, the drivers formed a strategic partnership with SK Telecom in order to get the upper hand in the market. SK Telecom is currently working on self-driving technology and running the T-Map navigation, the largest car navigation service in South Korea. Also, SK Telecom is a shareholder in Grab, the biggest carpool service in Southeast Asia, and the second-largest shareholder in South Korean car sharing company SoCar.
The drivers are taking their fight against carpool services to the National Assembly as well. An amendment to the Passenger Transport Service Act is scheduled to be tabled in the regular session of the National Assembly, which means the future of carpool services in South Korea depends on lawmakers.