Didi Kuaidi has enjoyed enormous success: its widespread use makes it China’s largest ride-hailing platform, and it has landed funding of USD one billion from Apple. Its next valuation is expected to reach between USD 24 and 25 billion. However, the world’s most highly valuated startup has recently found itself caught in controversy.
On an evening in early May, a female lecturer in Shenzhen hailed a car via Didi and was later found dead, murdered by the driver. The car’s license plate turned out to have been fake: the driver had registered with a real plate, but was driving with a false license plate when he committed the crime. News of this incident spread, and it became the focus of public discussion and debate.
“Passenger safety has been, and will always be, the top concern of Didi,” claimed Tao Ran, senior VP of Didi. He spoke to AllChinaTech about how Didi responded to the incident, and what they will do to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
The steps in their safety system occur as follows:
When a driver signs up with Didi, they must submit an electronic edition of their identity card, vehicle license, driving license, and bank card. Didi said that they have made agreements with law enforcement agencies to gain access to the national criminal database and drivers database, allowing online verification as part of the driver registration process.
When a pickup is performed on Didi, data collected includes the starting point, destination, route, and driving speed. Tao claimed that drivers’ driving habits can also be analyzed, and dangerous driver habits would be screened for review. Additionally, a regular drivers’ review initiated in late 2015 can temporarily freeze drivers’ accounts. In those cases, drivers must correct the problems and go through a re-verification process in person with Didi.
Should an accident happen, Didi would provide the injured a compensation amount higher than what common taxi companies would offer, Tao said, and Didi would pay in advance for the injured so that they can be treated without delay.
In response to the murder case, Didi has cancelled the concealment of car plates’ middle digits, to protect passenger safety. The murderer was captured on Monday.
To ensure that the driver performing a deal on Didi is the registered driver, facial recognition will be applied from this month. Didi will cooperate with financial services such as Alipay to verify each Didi driver’s identity. To improve the overall standard of Didi’s 14 million drivers nationwide, new offline driver training and education programs have been carried out across the country.
The Didi app will introduce a new function key as an “SOS button” that automatically locates where the car is and records what is going on. Another function, a “route-sharing button“, will also be introduced to enable passengers to share their routes with family and friends by default.
With the recent USD one billion from Apple, Tao said that Didi will work closely with Apple on products, technologies, and marketing.
Didi’s official data shows that the rideshare platform now has around 300 million registered users, covering over 400 cities with more than 11 million orders placed per day.
(Top photo screened from Didi’s official site)