After months of speculation, taxi-finding service Uber has finally launched in China after it began a test phase in Shanghai, its first city in the country.
City Weekend reports that the service will initially charge passengers in US Dollars, while its fleet of cars will focus on limited geography within the city, specifically the French Concession and Xintiandi areas.
— Uber China (@Uber_China) August 23, 2013
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The Shanghai launch is the fourth Asian city that Uber has entered this year as it seeks to realize its potential in the market. It began with Singapore in January, before it rolled into Seoul, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan, in June. Like Shanghai, each city began with a test phase before a full launch followed, typically 4-6 weeks later.
The China launch comes as no surprise since Uber has been hiring for staff in Shanghai and Beijing for a couple of months, while Head of Operations Ryan Graves told us recently that China and Hong Kong are among its upcoming targets. Just this week, Uber’s iOS app got an update that added Simplified Chinese in a clear sign of an imminent new launch.
China is an obvious market for a global startup like Uber, which a filing suggests has just raised a new round of funding that values the company at $3.5 billion.
Yet, its entry and success in China is no sure thing. As I wrote earlier this month, a combination of competitors, cheap taxi prices, regulators and the fact it is starting from scratch in a country where it has no presence makes China Uber’s toughest challenge yet.
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