South-East Asia users can now Grab a Lyft in the US
By Benjamin Cher June 2, 2016
- First integration of the global alliance between Grab, Ola, Didi and Lyft
- Users hailing a Lyft ride required to have a cashless payment method
FROM today (June 2) onwards, Grab users will be able to book a Lyft or a Lyft Plus (six-seater) ride in the United States from within the Grab app, while Lyft (pic above) users will see the same integration in a few weeks’ time.
“Today, a Grab user can use the Grab app to request a Lyft in 200 cities,” said Arul Kumaravel, vice president of engineering at Grab.
“Quickly following this, Lyft users can travel here and get a GrabTaxi or GrabCar using their app.
“With this integration, we are one step closer to using our app to travel around the world,” he told an earlier media event in Singapore announcing the integration.
The Grab-Lyft integration is the first to roll out from a global ride-hailing alliance announced last December between these two companies, as well as China’s Didi Kuaidi and India’s Ola.
This came in the wake of Softbank Corp’s US$250-million investment in Grab in December, 2014. Earlier that year, SoftBank had also invested US$210 million in Ola.
Grab remained coy about when integration with the other ride-hailing startups will roll out.
“Now that we have done the Lyft integration, now we understand what the integration looks like, it should be easier for us to take those learnings to Ola and Didi,” said Arul.
“We wanted to launch this first, get the feedback, make sure the experience and customer feedback from this is something we can incorporate and learn from – and once this is done, we will start doing the others,” he added.
One of the challenges in the integration was in the application program interface (API) that Lyft uses, according to Arul (pic).
“We needed to make sure that the experience is what the users expect – for example, Lyft provides an ETA (estimated time of arrival) for its services while we don’t.
“How do we ensure the experience is the same for Lyft users and Grab users as well?
“Also, we had to make sure latency is not an anomaly when using the app in the United States, so we have integrated with servers there,” he added.
And for users …
South-East Asian users who prefer paying in cash will have to adjust to the idea that the Grab platform will be cashless when used to hail a Lyft ride, according to Grab head of product Joel Yarbrough.
“Users will be prompted to add a funding source, credit card or Alipay, to keeps the experience consistent for Lyft drivers,” he said.
Grab users in the United States will also get an estimate of their fare, as they do in this part of the world.
“We alert people upfront when fares are higher than normal,” said Yarbrough.
Grab users will be charged in US dollars when hailing a Lyft ride, and will be notified of it. The app will also show the exchange rate.
Lyft users hoping to hop on a GrabBike in Thailand or Indonesia will be disappointed as Grab is only rolling out the integration for its GrabTaxi and GrabCar services.
“We are starting with services they can understand, but at some point we will expand beyond that,” said Yarbrough.
“We are starting with the taxi and car services because the experience is comparable to what they are experiencing – when they are ready, we’ll put them on a bike,” he added.
Grab and Lyft are also working together on the backend to allow Grab to get something a user might have lost in a Lyft car back to the user, he said.
“If you lose something in a car in the United States, we will get it to you in your hotel in the United States, or get it to you back in South-East Asia.
“This is part of our commitment to making the experience very seamless, very safe, and give users the control they enjoy at home even when they travel,” he added.
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