DiDi-backed Estonian ride-hailer Bolt launches in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Bolt, a popular ride-sharing system in Eastern Europe and Africa, has rolled out its platform in Thailand, the company said on Wednesday, as competition grows among Southeast Asian ride-hailers.

Backed by Daimler and China’s Didi Chuxing, Bolt said its pilot venture in the Thai capital, its first in Southeast Asia, has more than 2,000 drivers and will offer better rates to drivers and riders.

“For a minimum of six months, Bolt in Thailand commits to charging drivers no commission for using the platform and offers fares 20% lower than other competitors,” it said.

The announcement comes as drivers of well-funded rivals, including Singapore-based Grab, backed by SoftBank Group, and Indonesia’s Go-Jek, battled the coronavirus crisis that has devastated economies around the globe.

These services, however, were already reeling under high costs even before the outbreak.

Grab Thailand lost more than $22 million in 2018, while rapid growth led to a near doubling of losses last year.

“Our experience in Europe and Africa has proven that ride-hailing is not a winner-takes-all market,” Bolt said in a statement to Reuters.

Ride-sharing services exist in a legal gray area in Thailand, with police routinely stopping and fining drivers because they are not properly registered.

“The existing pressure from taxi associations against legalisation still looms large,” said Ben Kiatkwankul of government affairs advisory the Maverick Consulting Group.

“The government could take action against these players in the future.”

Bolt said it complied with all requirements to operate in Thailand and worked with the government on regulation.

Thailand’s plan to legalise ride-hailing services this year has slowed because of the pandemic.

Bolt, founded in 2013, has more than 30 million users in over 35 countries across Europe and Africa.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.