Maaxi taxi app – fighting fire with fire to counter technology disruptors

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Getting back into things after Easter and beyond the launch of the political party manifestos this week (which we shall dissect shortly at Business Innovate), news of a new app that might save London’s black cabbies caught the eye.

Back in August 2014, I wrote about the battle between Uber and London’s black taxis, which was leading to protests and a real threat to the long-term health of London’s black cab industry. Well, in an article today in Tech City News it is reported that a new app has been launched by billionaire financier Nat Rothschild, ‘Maaxi’, which seeks to reduce the cost of a black cab ride by filling more of the seats.

The app is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, because although it describes itself as ’door-to-door public transport network’ it very clearly a taxi app aimed at reducing costs. Ironically, for technology it uses a technique in countries such as Trinidad & Tobago to do this, where the taxis are even called ‘maxi taxis’ and will not leave until all seats are full.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, although the aim is to reduce the cost for customers by sharing rides and booking individual seats, the real savings are actually likely to be for the black cab industry. This is because despite a number of taxi apps, such as Hailo, Kabbee, and the much discussed Uber, this app is the first that reduces costs for cabbies. This is because it makes it more likely that cabbies can get more journeys from customers and fill up these journeys to bring in money – on top of traditional fares.

In this way, Maaxi, is a new means for the black cab industry to fight the encroachment of aggressive apps stealing their trade by striking back with technology of their own. This is an important example to a number of other industries under threat from technology, e.g., traditional banks from telecoms rivals developing mobile payment systems. Rather than trying to fight through traditional lobbying, regulation or protests (as for example, the cabbies have done in response to Uber in the past) technology can be a more effective counter to other technologies by making an industry more competitive. Innovation in this way, is after all what technology is all about; disruption to make an industry more efficient, effective and competitive. But rather than seeing the end of a traditional element of an industry- as London’s much loved black cabs would are seen as- finding ways to modernise an industry to the wants of customers through technology is the best form of defence.

Whether Nat Rothschild got the idea for this new app on a break to Trinidad or not (I would like to think he did), taking existing examples of how to deliver better value in industries and using technology to deliver them in an easy, cost effective way, such as a mobile app, is the way forward. Taxi home anyone!

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About the Author

About the Author: Crispin Oyen-Williams is the Director and Founder of Business Innovate. .

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  1. anonymous says:

    Maaxi’s tech is fairly unique e.g. daisy chaining jobs on the way. How is that similar to Trinidad? Your example was not very illustrative, as it suggests everyone starts from the same departure location

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