GrabTaxi's private car booking service, GrabCar, has received accreditation as a Transportation Network Company (TNC) in the Philippines, making it the first to be given the nod after the new classification was created earlier this year.
Available through the GrabTaxi app, the car rental booking service was accredited by the country's Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board.
Describing it as a "historical" move, Gatasha Bautista, head of GrabCar Philippines, said: "With full accreditation, more Filipino commuters will be able to use GrabCar and be confident that we offer a legitimate and safe private hire service. We will now focus on rapidly expanding our GrabCar service to serve more passengers across the Philippines."
She further noted the government's willingness to drive "game-changing regulations" that support industry developments.
The Department of Transportation and Communications in May 2015 unveiled plans to introduce a new classification to keep pace with mobile app-based booking services. This month, GrabCar said, it was able to meet all regulatory requirements to receive full accreditation as a TNC. These included obtaining the necessary business permit and certificate of registration, as well as submitting a business model proposal with fare rates and service charges.
Bautista added that all drivers for the GrabCar service were screened and trained in compliance with the new TNC regulations. There are more than 101,000 drivers supporting the GrabTaxi app, which is also available in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. The app has clocked more than 5.5 million downloads and transacts 10 bookings per second.
The company in April opened a US$100 million research and development (R&D) facility in Singapore to tap data analytics and identify growth market segments.
GrabCar's accreditation comes amid growing calls for regulations to govern or ban taxi booking apps. Uber, in particular, faced increasing contempt among critics who said the startup's practices were illegal and posed a threat to passenger safety, especially following reports a driver in India had raped his passenger. The company also skirted legal barriers in Indonesia by calling itself a technology company.