Diffride chief executive officer Hannah Yong says the fee is for connecting drivers with passengers and insurance coverage for both the parties.
“By not requiring them to pay us a percentage of their fares, this means that we can offer our passengers a more competitive fare rate for their journey and also allow our drivers to take home a larger amount of their earnings,” she said during the launch.
The fare starts at RM5 for the first 5km – beyond that it will be based on time and distance.
In addition to on-the-spot pickup requests, users can book ahead but only for journeys that take longer than 60 minutes, and book rides for friends.
The service accepts both cash and cashless options like credit and debit cards.
“As a homegrown Malaysian brand, we are run by Malaysians for Malaysians. Both riders and drivers are equally important to us, and we want to acknowledge this by ensuring that riders can conveniently obtain a safe and affordable ride to their destination, and that drivers will be able to safely and easily provide their services for a minimal fee,” says Yong.
She says Diffride has about 2,000 drivers now and targets to have 6,000 by the year-end with plans to expand from the Klang Valley to other cities, starting with Penang, Johor Bahru, Melaka and Ipoh.
As part of the vetting process, Diffride requires applicants to have no outstanding summonses or a criminal record, and the Transport Ministry requires them to be screened by the Land Public Transport Agency (SPAD).
She says the approval process takes about two weeks and drivers can upload the paperwork online or through the app.
The applicants must either own or be legally authorised to drive the car and it must be less than eight years old and have at least three stars according to the New Car Assessment Programme for South-East Asian Countries (ASEAN NCAP).
Yong says Diffride will also use telematics to track drivers’ acceleration and breaking to detect unsafe driving or speeding so it can generate a review in addition to passenger ratings.
Yong notes that Malaysians are sometimes reluctant to give critical reviews so the telematics will be able to give a better picture.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook, who attended the launch, says the ministry will not curb the entry of new rideshare services and instead focus on safety measures and proper regulation.
He says there are more than 10 rideshare companies operating in Malaysia now, with around 300,000 rideshare drivers estimated on the road. However, only about 70,000 are registered with SPAD.
There are also no plans to cap the number of drivers per rideshare.
Diffride is also partnering with Digi Telecommunications to offer driver-partners a special postpaid mobile plan with monthly rebates. It has also partnered with Huawei Technologies Malaysia so driver-partners can buy Huawei smartphones at a special rate.
Both the Diffride passenger and driver-partner apps are available for download on Google Play and Apple App stores.
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