In this our May 2019 Community Chat, and with members of the Caribbean tech community, Claire Craig and Matthew Cowan, the panel discusses the ride-sharing/ride-hailing business model, popularised by companies, such as Uber. Can it complement the public transport system in the Caribbean, and what might be its social impact?
With Uber launching its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) this week, it is opportune that we are having a conversation about the ride-hailing (also called ride-sharing) business model. Uber, like other similar ride-hailing businesses, such as Lyft, is an online platform that connects people who need taxi services with ordinary motorists who can deliver that service. Currently, Uber is the largest of those services, with operations in nearly 800 cities worldwide, and an estimated 100 million-plus users.
The Uber IPO, which is scheduled for Friday, 10 May, is expected to be one of the largest for 2019, with the company anticipating a market valuation of between USD 80—90 billion.
As had been noted in earlier articles, here on ICT Pulse, Uber had launched operations in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017, but less than 18 months later, it had pulled out. However, the model has been adopted by several businesses across the Caribbean region, and individuals have been signing up to provide services on similar models, which have been applied in a variety of fields.
To discuss the topic of the ride-sharing/ride-hailing business model, here are guest panellists:
Matthew Cowan, who lives in Martinique, is a Consultant and the Founder of digtlfutures, through which he wants to help small and medium-sized entities across the Caribbean develop and implement their digital transformation strategies. He also writes and publishes “The Future is Digital” newsletter.
Matthew, who tabled the topic, is interested in exploring whether or not the ride hailing business model could act as positive complementary service to the public transport systems in the Caribbean.
Claire Craig is the Enterprise Applications Support Manager, at St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, in Trinidad and Tobago. She is also one of the coordinators of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG).
Continuing with the ride-sharing topic, Claire is interested in expanding it to better understand the social impact, such as with regard to:
- Do these initiatives create jobs in the Caribbean?
- Do they stimulate economic growth and development?
- Is the business environment in the Caribbean conducive for this type of business initiative?
- Is there a need for Government regulation and support?
- Are there other stakeholders needs that should be considered (e.g. who is the target market, do they have access to credit cards for online payments)?
We would love to hear your thoughts!
Below are links to some of the organisations and resources that either were mentioned during the episode, or otherwise, might be useful:
- Claire Craig
- Matthew Cowen
- The University of the West Indies (St Augustine)
- National Center for Sustainable Transportation white paper, The Effects of Ride Hailing Services on Travel and Associated Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Berkeley Haas article, Sharing Economy Business Models: Focus on Ride-Sharing
- Wired article , The Ride-Hailing Business Is Now Way Bigger Than Uber and Lyft
- CNN article, Uber may stumble like Lyft even as other recent IPOs soar
- New York Times article, Everything You Need to Know About the Uber I.P.O.
Image credits: Pixabay (Pexels); M Cowan; C Craig
Music credit: Ray Holman