Uber officially launched its ride-sharing app in Cambodia last September, with the kingdom becoming the 78th market where the US-based ride-hailing behemoth is present. Pascal Ly, general manager of Uber in Cambodia, talks to Khmer Times’ business reporter Sum Manet about the company’s progression in the kingdom, its business strategy, and the local ride-sharing market.
KT: Since launching last September, how has the company progressed in Cambodia?
Mr Ly: Uber’s progression in Cambodia is looking quite good because we see a constant increase in terms of drivers and riders. We are experiencing a three-digit growth, which tells you just how fast we are expanding.
We’ve been focusing on strengthening our team here, and we’ve managed to recruit some very strong local and regional talent.
KT: Why is having ride-sharing services good for the city?
Mr Ly: Having this service is definitely beneficial for everyone involved, including the city itself. Users benefit from having quick access to a cheap ride with the touch of a button, no matter where they are in the city.
Drivers, on the other hand, gain access to an extra source of income which means their families can benefit from higher living standards. The application also makes everything more efficient and faster, which results in drivers having more free time that can be spent with their families.
It is also good for the city. With the use of the type of technology involved in ride-sharing services, companies and authorities can work together to address some of the worst problems that come with driving, such as driving under the influence or traffic congestion.
KT: Grab, one of your main competitors, joined the local market recently. How do you plan to compete with them, and what is your strategy to differentiate yourself from the competition?
Mr Ly: We welcome the competition. It is good for the market and good for the users. I, personally, don’t see it as a battle against other companies in the ride-sharing sector. Our battle is against the prevalent idea that you need to own a car. We want to change people’s minds about this. With our service, you can commute fast and cheaply; no need to buy your own vehicle. This is good for everyone, particularly for the city. Phnom Penh doesn’t need more vehicles clogging the streets.
You asked about my strategy. I always ask myself these questions: is it good for the users? Is it good for the drivers? And, finally, is it good for the city? These are my guiding principles.
Safety is another key element of our strategy. We are always working on improving the app and make it safer for the users.
KT: How is regulation for this new sector coming along?
Mr Ly: First of all, let me say that I’m very thankful that we’ve been invited to work with the government to help develop the regulatory framework for this new market. Before we launched Uber, we started working with the authorities to help guide the process. To this day, we continue to work with them to ensure the rules and regulations foment a fair and inclusive market poised to thrive.
KT: How do you plan to win over people that prefer to use regular tuk tuks or motodops?
Mr Ly: We are taking it easy, not rushing. We’ve been in the market for only six months, so we need to go slowly, step by step, analyzing the opportunities and challenges as they come. And, as I mentioned earlier, focusing always on what’s good for the users, drivers and the city.
We are an international company but our team is 100 percent Khmer, so we know exactly what the situation in the market is. But, again, we are progressing carefully, making sure we listen to what our users have to say and incorporating their feedback into our strategy and operations.
KT: Do you contemplate the possibility in the near future of expanding beyond just cars to also offer tuk tuk and motodop rides?
Mr Ly: For now, I have nothing to announce in this regard. It just isn’t the right time to consider these options. However, as we expand, if we think that’s where the market is naturally leading us to, of course we would consider it.
KT: What is your outlook for the sector in the upcoming years?
Mr Ly: We are past the testing phase of our service, and I’m happy to tell you that we see great potential in this market.
With a young, dynamic and ambitious team, we will continue to work on enhancing the security and the general quality of our product.
We will continue to consolidate the team and developing the partnerships we need to offer a great product and become the people’s first choice in the ride-sharing market.