Taxify lobbies ministry on ride-sharing bill

Taxify-liveried taxis in Tallinn.
Taxify-liveried taxis in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Taxi-hailing app company Taxify is concerned about its activities in Estonia if a bill aimed at imposing stricter requirements on ride-sharing platforms should pass into law, it is reported.

The bill, introduced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, would make ride-sharing providers responsible for conducting background checks on drivers, their vehicles, and accompanying documentation, including insurance.

The bill would not only affect Taxify, but also ride-sharing app Uber, and competitors to Taxify in the taxi-hailing market including Russian company Yandex.

However, since Taxify is the largest of these companies, and is of Estonian origin, the bill is particularly pertinent, as evidenced in a letter written by CEO Markus Villig to economic minister Kadri Simson (Centre).

"A possible consequence of the amendment is the killing off of a necessary and innovative mode of transport and considerable social side-effects,'' wrote Mr Villig, to the minister.

''In its current form, the amendment [to the law] could lead to the disappearance of 'hobby' drivers and part-time taxi drivers from the Estonian transport market," he continued.

If the law passed, ride-sharing platforms would have to share license card numbers with the economic activities register, which insurance providers have access to. This might lead insurers to charge ride-sharing drivers the same premiums as regular taxis, thus driving some out of the market.

Taxify is the youngest of Estonia's two, or by some estimates four, unicorn companies, ie. companies valued at or over $1 billion. The others are gambling software company Playtech, to which two companies of Estonian origin but are based outside the country, Skype and Transferwise, could be added.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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