Chinese city Shenzhen puts a stop to taxi-finding smartphone apps, citing lack of standards

Chinese city Shenzhen puts a stop to taxi-finding smartphone apps, citing lack of standards

Finding a taxi via a smartphone app may be highly convenient, but authorities in the Chinese city of Shenzhen are cracking down on such services, which it accuses of lacking standards and breaching regulations.

According to a report on Sina Tech (via Tech in Asia), an internal memo issued by the Transport Commission of Shenzhen Municipality demands taxi companies to “immediately investigate their fleet of taxi drivers and warn those with taxi-finding apps on their mobile phones to stop using them. Those found to continue using the apps will be recorded for a practice of dishonesty and sent for evaluation.”

The internal memo was dated April 28, the Sina Tech report says. The publication spoke to taxi drivers, who said that their companies have issued orders earlier this month to stop using the taxi-finding apps, if not risk punishment.

The transport department has since responded to Sina Tech, saying that it is taking steps to regulate standards governing taxi-finding smartphone apps, and putting a stop now isn’t meant to discourage the use of  such services. If developers can refine their apps to meet the requirements of the transport department, it would “welcome the promotion and use of such software.”

The internal memo had noted that the use of such apps could create instability in the taxi industry by allowing drivers to reject or choose their customers.

Last month, it was reported that authorities in Beijing could be considering a foray into the taxi mobile app space for a unified platform that would work with private companies.

The move by Shenzhen’s transport department is, however, currently posing a headache for app developers. One of them, based in Beijing with more than 4,000 users in Shenzhen, is said to have received a notice requesting that it stop promoting its service there.

Image Credit: Mark Ralston via AFP/Getty Images

Read next: Jack Dorsey's digital payments company Square expands beyond North America, landing in Japan first