Shanghai, CHINA – Wexing Chen, founder of Chinese ride-hailing app Kuaidi Dache, which merged with rival ride hailing app Didi to become the leading Chinese ride hailing app Didi Chuxing, will be launching a blockchain-based ride hailing app, to give current ride hailing app operators a run for their money. With Uber having exited the market in China, Didi Chuxing has had a virtual monopoly on the lucrative ride hailing market in China. In a nation where traffic snarls and hour-long commutes through congested Chinese cities is the norm, ride hailing apps have proved popular among urban Chinese for their ease of use and convenience.
Chen will be teaming up with Yang Jun, a co-founder of Chinese on-demand local services firm Meituan, to launch the product. According to Yang, who spoke on the sidelines of the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2018 in Guizhou, a major city in southwest China,
“I’ve been asking myself what’s the value of the blockchain. My definition is to see whether and where people can actually use it.”
“With the use of blockchain, we can build a set of economic systems different from the previous ones. We can direct traffic from the internet and add on different services to meet users’ needs.”
Chen, who was attending the same event, added,
“Ride hailing is the first time blockchain will be tested on a social application on mass scale.”
Neither disclosed details of the roll out plan or the timeline for launch, but they should have no shortage of backers when the time comes for fund raising. Both Chen and Yang are successful entrepreneurs, with Chen’s merger of his Kuaidi Dache with Didi in 2016 creating a ride hailing app that quickly sent Uber, the U.S. ride hailing app packing its bags and exiting the Chinese market. Didi Chuxing is now valued at nearly US$60 billion, close to Uber’s US$62 billion valuation, but more significant considering that Uber is in markets across the world whereas Didi Chuxing focuses primarily on the Chinese market. Yang’s local services firm Meituan merged with peer review site Dianping in 2016 to create Meituan Dianping, now valued at around US$30 billion.
Chen is currently founder of Funcity Inc. and has been actively investing in blockchain. Yang, founder of Skyline Invest, is also active in the Chinese blockchain scene. China has long backed blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies, while keeping speculation and trading of cryptocurrencies firmly out of its borders. The restrictions have not stopped Chinese who have long learned to circumvent the Great Firewall of China to engage in cryptocurrency trading, but large technology companies such as Alibaba and Tencent have not been able to publicly embrace digital tokens or cryptocurrencies. Chen and Yang did not elaborate on how blockchain will improve their ride hailing offering, but sources close to the pair claim that it will provide more secure transaction services as well as frictionless transfer of value on a ecosystem that will support more than just transport.