Chinese ride hailing rivals look to take advantage

A navigation map in the app of the Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi can be seen on a mobile phone in front of the app logo shown in this illustration image dated July 1, 2021.

Florence Lo | Reuters

GUANGZHOU, China – Rivals to Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi are attempting to squeeze the company’s market share amid harsh regulatory action.

Days after Didi went public earlier this month, Chinese regulators opened a cybersecurity review of the company.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has also ordered app stores in China to remove Didi from the download because the company claims it illegally collected users’ personal information. No new users can log in.

Last week, authorities ordered another 25 Didi-operated apps to be removed from app stores.

Didi’s regulatory problems opened the door for competitors to secure the company’s market share of around 90%.

Last week, the grocery company Meituan relaunched a standalone ride-hailing app that was previously removed from app stores in 2019.

Another rival named T3 plans to expand into 15 cities, according to an internal memo quoted by local media. T3 is owned by three major Chinese automakers and backed by tech giants Tencent and Alibaba. The company has pushed ads on Tencent’s WeChat messaging service, which has over a billion users. Anyone who clicks on the ads will be offered discount coupons for using the service.

Cao Cao, a ride-hailing service from automaker Geely, is now offering hefty discounts on its service to new users.

Didi grew to be the dominant player through aggressive expansion over the years with nearly 500 million active users per year after taking over Uber’s China business in 2016.

But the company was implicated in Beijing’s crackdown on its tech companies, especially as regulators tightened data security regulations.

The regulators are also tightening their oversight of Chinese companies that, like Didi, want to list abroad. On Saturday, the CAC said any company with data from more than 1 million users must go through a security clearance before conducting a foreign stock listing.

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