A $1bn-valued ride-sharing app called Bolt launched in London today, in a move designed to take on Uber.
Launched originally in Tallinn, Estonia, as Taxify, Bolt will offer a 50% discount on fares during a promotion period and between 5% and 10% cheaper fares on average thereafter.
Bolt takes 15% commission from drivers, which it said was up to half that of other operators.
It said drivers would receive at least 85% of their fares and earn over 10% more on average than with other platforms, and that it was the fastest-growing on-demand transportation platform, with over 25m customers in 30 countries and 100 cities.
The business extends from private cars to e-scooters and motorcycles as well as food delivery in some parts of the world.
Bolt’s app in London will launch with an in-app panic button. The ‘SOS’ service provides an added layer of safety for passengers by contacting the Metropolitan Police directly when activated. For less urgent enquiries, passengers can contact a 24-hour fully staffed customer service team based in London. To protect them from unwanted abuse, drivers can access the in-app panic button service in the same way as passengers.
Markus Villig, founder and chief executive of Bolt, said: “We’re excited to be entering the UK market by launching Bolt in the nation’s vibrant and cosmopolitan Capital. London deserves more choice in ride-hailing and we believe Bolt offers what passengers and drivers want: a fair, reliable and affordable service.”
Bolt, or Taxify as it was, is joining an increasingly competitive market, especially in London.
Uber is well-established here. For Bolt, success will be a question of initial undercutting the market on pricing before product awareness about how it differs from Uber sinks into the market.
It will need deep pockets initially, although Uber’s recent IPO will mean that the subsidy culture that it ran for market share will have a limit as investors eye returns.
Bolt will hope that lower prices will help it grab market share from the established players, for both drivers and customers.
And with regard to motor finance, it is hoping that millennial professionals perhaps go with ride-sharing rather than car finance as an answer to mobility.
It is also not the only app to launch in London this year: former Parisien app Chauffeur Prive relaunched in the UK as Kapten following an equity investment from Daimler in February of 2019.
The market is likely to become more crowded than less over time, meaning competition is likely to become fiercer.