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Ride-sharing app Arcade City to be launched in PH

Ride-sharing startup Arcade City would be launched in the Philippines on Monday in spite of a stop order from the government, a move aimed at filling the void of Uber’s exit, a top official said.

Arcade City founder and CEO Christopher David said in an e-mail to reporters that the launch would go as planned in spite of a cease and desist order from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

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LTFRB told Arcade City on April 12 to stop from “operating as another form of transportation network company (TNC).” However, David, who is a former Uber driver himself, said Arcade City does not consider itself a TNC.

“That’s because we are a platform to support local networks forming their own TNC/TNVS [transport network vehicle services] and all using one platform,” he said.

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Available across the country

This is not the first time that the LTFRB tried to block Arcade City’s entry into the country. In August last year, the agency issued the same order against the startup which was around the time the LTRFB temporarily suspended Uber operations.

David said the app would be available across the country, not just in Metro Manila. However, the availability of the service would be “dependent largely on how many drivers sign up where.”

This is because the app prides itself on not having a corporate middleman which could pull out when profits start plunging, according to an explanatory video on its website. Instead, it would let the drivers in a local area run the app, including its rates, on their own terms.

He said more than 20,000 drivers and riders have signed up in the country last year through an early version of the mobile app. Arcade City had pulled down that version but they would be e-mailing them again when the app goes live on Monday, he said.

Incentive system 

Arcade City would incentivize the growth of its driver and rider network through a blockchain-based cryptocurrency called “arcade tokens,” according to its official website.

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Riders and drivers could earn tokens through any action that gives “measurable value to the Arcade City network.” These actions could be providing a well-reviewed service, as well as recruiting more drivers and riders.

The tokens, then, could either be sold for cash or used within the Arcade ecosystem for services and bonus features. This incentive system, David said, “will take another month or so to fully roll out.”

The app was first launched in 2016 in Austin, Texas, where it had tens of thousands of members, according to media reports. It was considered the world’s first self-governing ride-sharing network.

Uber’s exit, Arcade’s entry

This developed days after the LTFRB gave Uber until April 15 to operate in the Philippines. Uber was scheduled to end its services on April 8, after the company’s Southeast Asia operations were acquired by Grab.

The weight of this LTFRB order against Uber, however, remained unclear, given that it runs against an earlier order from the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC).

Under PCC’s order, Uber is obliged to continue operations until the competition watchdog finishes its review of the Grab-Uber deal. The extension did not have a deadline.

In either case, consumers would find themselves having less choices for convenient transportation — an opportunity which Arcade City wants to take advantage of.

“Yes, we will continue launching the app as planned on April 16th. Hopefully the LTFRB spends more time processing applications of TNVS and drivers, less time on making threats to companies trying to help,” David said.

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TAGS: Arcade City, Christopher David, Grab, LTFRB, PCC, ride sharing app, transportation network company, Uber
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