Korea's Daum Kakao officially launches taxi booking app

Weeks after announcing its plans to offer a taxi booking service, the South Korean IT company unveils its KakaoTaxi app and inks agreements with four drivers groups to encourage signups.

South Korea's Daum Kakao has officially launched its taxi booking app, KakaoTaxi, for Android devices with support for Apple's iOS platform slated for release next month.

Available across the country, the app allows Kakao users to log into their account and indicate their destination to complete the request for a driver. Their location is automatically determined when they launch the app, said the company, which first announced plans for the taxi booking app in January. It also owns the country's popular mobile messaging app, KakaoTalk.

In preparation for the launch, Daum Kakao had inked agreements with the Korean National Joint Conference of Taxi Association, Seoul Taxi Association, Federation of Korean Taxi Workers' Union, and Korean Taxi Workers' Union, and will be "working closely" with major market operators to deliver its booking service.

Touting the new offering to be designed around passenger safety, Daum Kakao said drivers are licensed taxi operators and approved via KakaoTaxi's application process. Once a taxi request is accepted, passengers will receive the driver's name, photo, and vehicle information.

This focus on security is extended to phone calls between drivers and passengers, where a specially generated number will hide passengers' actual mobile number to protect their privacy, the company said. Text messages also will be automatically deleted once the taxi reaches the dropoff location.

Passengers can send notifications to their KakaoTalk friends that contain information such as vehicle number, pickup and dropoff location, and estimated ride time. They can rate the service level of their drivers, who will receive various benefits when they achieve high ratings.

The company's focus on passenger service is not surprising after news broke that a driver of competing taxi booking service, Uber, in India allegedly raped a passenger while another fell alseep at the wheel.

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