Kakao Mobility will stop its pilot carpool service that has been provided since December 2018.
"We have decided to bring a halt to our pilot carpool service," Kakao Mobility said on Jan. 15. "The decision was made in order to create a channel for communications needed to build a social consensus and cooperation with the taxi industry."
The government and the ruling party have been pushing to launch a forum to discuss carpool issues and the development of the taxi industry. However, taxi organizations have been demanding a halt to Kakao's trial carpool service as a precondition for its participation in the forum. Kakao accepted the request from the taxi industry.
"We will talk with an open attitude. We are willing to cancel our plan to launch the carpool service, if necessary," Kakao Mobility said in a press release. The message seems to show that Kakao Mobility would burn its bridges behind it to reach an agreement with the taxi industry.
However, some industry sources noted that Kakao’s latest message is different from the past ones where it expressed a strong will for the carpool service. "I am concerned that Kakao Mobility’s carpool service may follow in the footsteps of Uber, which gave up staring its services in Korea due to the Korean taxi industry’s opposition,” an IT industry official said. “If Kakao Mobility withdraws, we will hardly see innovation in the mobility sector in Korea for a long time."