The idea of a “sharing economy” is gaining more and more ground in various aspects of everyday consumers’ lives. Not only can you use services like Uber and Lyft to get a ride to anywhere, at any given time, but platforms like AirBnB make it possible to find far cheaper accommodation while travelling. One sector that has been neglected for quite some time now, is public transportation. Easiway wants to tackle this problem head-on, albeit its efforts will start locally.
Easiway Tackles the World’s Most Horrible Commute
Crossing the border from Shenzhen – in China – to Hong Kong is only a 17-kilometer trip, yet it can take up to five hours per day to get back and forth. A lot of time is wasted on customs officials, crowds and more frustratingly, traffic. Crossing this particular border is a time-consuming process, which could be simplified, according to the Easiway team.
Up until this point, there have been several projects trying to make this daily commute a lot easier and smoother. Various companies rent a handful of vans to transport people back and forth over the border every day. This is a large improvement compared to using a bus or train, as there are far more people on board of these transportation methods compared to a van.
Furthermore, using such a “van service” allows customers to get dropped off exactly where they need to be, rather than at a central hub. But there is one major drawback to this business model as well: reserving a spot has to be done via telephone, making this service all but unusable for non-Chinese speakers.
Easiway wants to solve all of these problems and more, as their engineers have created a mobile application with a certain level of “Uber-esque functionality”. Using this application should – in theory – shorten the trip by a minimum of fifty minutes, which would be quite valuable to people making this commute every work day.
But there is more, as Easiway has made their mobile application available to non-Chinese speakers, as English, Japanese and Korean are supported languages. Other than that, the Easiway app works just like Uber: select a pick-up location, a drop-off spot, and book your ride.
One aspect of the Easiway service that will either make or break the service is the way fares are being calculated. Early estimates indicate a six-person van would cost a total of US$120 – depending on pick-up and drop-off locations – which means every individual user would pay US$20. Payments can be made via credit card, Alipay, or UnionPay.
Granted, using public transportation is nearly 50% cheaper, but comes at the cost of a lot of time-wasting and crowded buses and trains. Keeping in mind Easiway has only launched in August of this year, there will be further improvements to come. So far, van renting companies seem to prefer this disruptive startup over their traditional customers, as Easiway can attract a global audience thanks to its multi-language support.
Introducing More Convenient Payment Methods Such as Bitcoin
Similar to Uber, Easiway is keeping the “sharing economy” idea in mind, all the while creating a solution to a long-lasting problem. The next logical step for Easiway would be to sift through customer feedback and look at ways to make the entire process even smoother. More convenient payment methods such as Bitcoin could play a major role in the future of this startup.
Both Hong Kong and China are countries where Bitcoin adoption seems to be thriving for the time being and taking advantage of this situation will help the company grow. Furthermore, as they are focusing their attention on attracting a global audience, Bitcoin is the only global payment method available today, which removes the risk of fraud, chargebacks, and payments not being processed properly.
Source: Tech In Asia
Images courtesy of Easiway, Shutterstock, Forbes