mytaxi washington dc taxi cab app call hailing iphone apps

Beware the Uber-killer: Germany’s MyTaxi debuts Stateside

Yesterday Washington DC became the first US city to be targeted by MyTaxi, which is Germany’s most used mobile app for booking taxis — with one in five German cab drivers signed up.

The three-year-old Hamburg startup has 18,000 taxis available for booking in Europe. Now it plans to take on the same mobile-first, ground-transport business model that has been popularized in the US by Uber and Taxi Magic.

Helio hasn’t made it to DC yet. Neither has Uber.  Uber has made it, but has faced hurdles from the local regulatory agency.*

Unlike those rival apps, MyTaxi offers a direct billing process between driver and passenger, smartphone to smartphone, thanks to the help of Paypal.

mytaxi washington dc taxi cab app call hailing iphone apps

Its taxi-call apps for Android and iPhone/iPad  have been downloaded 2.3 million times. The apps allow users to book (and optionally pay for) cabs. Users can also track the approach, arrival time, and distance of their cab live on Google Maps, as well as see ratings of the driver from other users.

Potential trouble

On the down side, DC has a much lower-than-usual bar for entry into the cab market, so there is an oversupply of cabs, in comparison to other major US cities on a per capita basis.

That means that when Congress is out of session — sometimes half of the calendar days a year — many taxi cabs sit idle. So they may not be interested in partnering with MyTaxi and seeing a potential share of their commissions reduced.

MyTaxi charges cab drivers 99 cents per ride.

Ideal consumer market

On the consumer side, things look brighter. MyTaxi’s mobile payment may make it popular with DC’s 30,000-strong, mobile-savvy expense account-toting lobbyist and lawyer set.

For one thing, few yellow cabs in DC can accept credit or debit cards, making advance payment by app popular for people needing to file electronic expense accounts.

DC recently moved away from a zone-fare system to a hybrid distance-calculation system, but many locals continue to find it difficult to anticipate what the appropriate fare should be.

GigaOm has the scoop that MyTaxi and car-sharing company Car2Go are sharing an office in DC and will soon be appearing in each other’s apps. Feel like renting a car by the hour? Use the one option. Feel like hopping a cab? Use the other.

MyTaxi’s next major city will likely be Madrid by the end of the year, says the company, Intelligent Apps.

*Errors corrected, post-publication. My bad.

UPDATE : 4 p.m. Some readers have written in with some comments. I’d like to address them:

Hailo is a UK company, not US. If my wording implied that it was a US company, I regret the confusion, but that was not what I was saying.

Uber and myTaxi launched mobile-first, ground-transport products at around the same time in 2010. But Uber is what American audiences are familiar with — hence, my statement that “Uber popularised” the concept in the US.

Hailo started its service in November 2011, as was commented upon during a heated debate between the founders of Uber and HailoCab at Le Web in London 2012, moderated by Michael Arrington. I was not implying that Hailo was launched at the same time as Uber and myTaxi or that it was the same size as the other companies, but Hailo is clearly a competitor. Hailo has 3 cities in 3 countries. Uber has 13 cities in 3 countries. myTaxi stopped counting at 30 cities in 6 countries.

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



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  1. Dan Rogers

    When will people realize that these booking apps are only apps and will never turn into a long-term successful business. The cab companies will never be able to completely get rid of their call centers and these booking apps are becoming a dime and dozen. The cab companies can now buy their own branded apps for a fraction of pay $0.99 per trip.

    • Sean O'Neill

      Sean O'Neill

      Thanks for your comment, Dan. I think the startups are betting that people won’t want to have more than one app, which might be necessary if trying to find all the branded cabs in different parts of a town.

  2. Mark Silverberg

    Just a correction – Uber has made it to DC. I’ve used it on many occasions and its definitely a good service to have around.

    They tweet regularly at

  3. Sean O'Neill

    Sean O'Neill

    Thanks, George! I’ve fixed the typo.

  4. George Berkowski

    Hailo is spelt HAILO (rather than Helio).


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