STARTUPS

Ryde's on-demand courier service is 'no go' for LTA

Singapore

RYDESEND, the new peer-to-peer, on-demand courier service proposed by homegrown startup Ryde Technologies, does not comply with regulations, The Business Times has learnt.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) told BT that Ryde did not consult the agency before announcing the launch of the service on Wednesday. "Any new service will have to comply with LTA's regulations."

LTA added: "We have warned Ryde that its proposed RydeSEND service would contravene the regulations prohibiting public service vehicles such as taxis and private-hire cars from solely conveying goods. Drivers accepting such jobs may have their vocational licences revoked."

LTA noted that under its regulations, "taxis and private-hire cars are meant to carry passengers for hire and reward, and cannot be used for the conveyance of goods". Ryde did not comment when queried.

On Wednesday, Ryde unveiled RydeSEND, which enables users to have small items - documents, parcels, flowers or even packed meals - delivered to a destination within 60 minutes.

Related story: Ryde says it will not use private-hire drivers for new courier service, apologises for confusion

Users will be matched with a nearby driver upon booking, in a manner similar to when they book a ride via the Ryde app to get to a place. Both the sender and receiver can track the delivery transit in real-time.

Ryde is said to be the only ride-hailing app in Singapore to offer such a service. GrabExpress - a similar service run by Singapore-based ride-hailing app Grab - is available in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, but not in Singapore. BT understands that Grab has no plans for now to roll out GrabExpress in Singapore.

Ryde said that RydeSEND will be introduced here on Sept 3. If it launches, it will compete against other on-demand courier services including Ninja Van, Lalamove, GoGoVan and CarPal.

Ryde said that it has, on its ride-hailing platform, over 60,000 drivers whom it could also tap for RydeSEND jobs. Terence Zou, founder and chief of Ryde Technologies, said on Wednesday: "There is synergy, as we are tapping the same supply."

Charges will be based on RydeX's (Ryde's private-hire car service) car fares, but come with an additional surcharge of S$6. Like RydeX, RydeSEND's charges will fluctuate based on demand, and may cost more during peak periods, Mr Zou said.

Ryde also aims to expand its peer-to-peer network with motorcyclists; it hopes to onboard 20,000 motorcyclists for RydeSEND by the fourth quarter of 2018. A motorcycle delivery will cost 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than a car delivery, but have to carry smaller items.

When motorcycles are added to RydeSEND's network, the prices of delivering small items could drop by another 30 per cent, Ryde noted.

Ryde was started in 2015 as a car-pooling service. It launched RydeX in May this year, following Grab's acquisition of Uber's South-east Asian operations in March.

Other ride-hailing apps that have launched here since Uber's exit include TADA (by Singapore-based startup MVL Foundation) and India's Jugnoo, which lets drivers bid a price for rides.