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Taxi booking app ihail given the green light by ACCC

The competition watchdog will allow the taxi industry to set up a new smartphone booking app, called ihail, which allows users to book a cab in a similar manner to requesting an Uber.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) originally opposed the app, but has reversed its stance after the software was modified. Changes include giving passengers a choice to pay their fare in the taxi (rather than just via the app), and the ability to choose their preferred taxi network based on certain performance information during the booking process or the nearest available taxi (regardless of network).

“The app will provide an additional platform for passengers to book taxis from a large pool of taxi networks and drivers,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims, said.

“The ACCC accepts this is likely to reduce waiting times, particularly in peak periods, which is a benefit to the public.”

The app is a joint venture between Yellow Cabs, Silver Top Taxi Service, Black and White Cabs, Suburban Taxis and Cabcharge.

“The ACCC considers the ownership structure underpinning the ihail app is still likely to allow the participants to quickly establish a larger network of taxi drivers than any other app, and that this initial competitive advantage will not be gained from offering a better product to drivers and passengers but through ihail’s ownership structure alone.

“However, the ACCC considers that ihail will still face competition from other taxi booking apps and ridesharing apps which have established brands and customer bases. There is also nothing in the arrangements preventing drivers using other booking apps,” Sims said.

Ihail will initially operate in major metropolitan and regional centres across Australia and some cities overseas.

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