There’s no need to call it a conspiracy, because four international ride-share companies are being perfectly open about their cross-booking platform. The purpose is increase their ability to compete with the much larger Uber. Ride-hailing enterprises Lyft, China’s Didi, India’s Ola, and now Grab in Southeast Asia have formed a “global anti-Uber alliance,” according to Recode.
Grab CEO Anthony Tan announced the new Grab app feature that lets their customers hail Lyft cars when they’re in the U.S. Even trickier, perhaps, is a feature that allows customers to pay the Lyft fees in their own currency. Within a few weeks, Tan said, Lyft customers who travel to Southeast Asia will be able to hail Grab cars via the Lyft app.
Didi and Lyft agreed to cross-book in April but, to date, while Didi customers can hail Lyft cars in the U.S., it doesn’t work the other way. A Lyft user in China cannot use the familiar app to call a Didi car. If Southeast Asia ride-share booking for Lyft customers begins working with Grab soon, the Grab arrangement will be the first fully functioning two-sided cross-booking. Once it’s all up and running, Grab customers will have access to Lyft cars in 200 cities in the U.S. and Lyft customers will be able to hail a Grab car in 30 Southeast Asian cities.
The companies see working together as a way to compete against Uber’s worldwide scale by using apps developed in each country, rather than using a single app tweaked for different countries. Each company in the cross-platform booking agreement has teams to handle customer support and reconcile currency exchanges. According to Tan, by using dedicated support teams that focus on cross-bookings they will be better equipped to ensure satisfactory experiences on both ends.