Uber, a ride-sharing service with headquarters in San Francisco, CA, is losing approval in other countries around the world. The governments of Thailand and Spain have both ordered the service to cease operations within their respective borders. These are just two recent examples of the company falling out of international favor.
After the company’s launch in 2009, the app-driven service spread to cities across America like wildfire and quickly became the new alternative to traditional taxi services. By streamlining and modernizing the process of hailing a cab—the app matches drivers with potential riders using the GPS capabilities of smartphones and users have their credit cards connected to their account in order to simplify payment—Uber was able to steal a lot of customers, especially younger ones, from traditional taxi companies. This success inspired founder Garrett Camp to introduce his modern ride-sharing service to the rest of the world.
According to their website, Uber is available in 242 cities in 52 countries. These numbers seem to be shrinking by the day as more countries take stances against the relatively new service, which has only been operating outside of the United States since 2012. So far, the list of other countries where Uber has lost approval includes Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Japan, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand.
Exactly where each government stands on this issue differs from country to country. In Britain, for example, the Parliament has yet to make an official statement disallowing Uber, but London cabbie’s are in a fit of rage and their organized protests have become commonplace. Along with cab drivers in Japan, they are demanding that the new service abide to more strict regulations. In Belgium, the Brussels government officially banned Uber in April of this year but the company disputed this ruling and it has continued to operate. The ride-sharing service was recently banned in New Delhi because of accusations that a driver raped a passenger, yet it continues to operate in five other Indian cities.
In Thailand, Uber was officially banned earlier this week on the premise that the ride-sharing service uses private, unlicensed cars and is therefore illegal. A similar complaint was made by the Taxi Council of Queensland, Australia, although it had more to do with the drivers themselves than their cars. Their grievance is that Uber drivers are not required to submit to any sort of background check, while the Queensland taxi drivers are forced to undergo criminal checks on a regular basis.
In Madrid, a commercial court judge has ordered that the ride-sharing service cease its operations in Spain because it competes unfairly with the licensed members of the Madrid Taxi Association. This is a preliminary ban and many expect that Uber will contest this decision, just as it did successfully in the Belgian court system.
During its first two years operating outside of the United States, the ride-sharing service was extremely successful in entering new markets across the globe. The company is now valued at around $40 billion. However, since Uber is rapidly losing favor in other countries, the company might have to use a portion of that money to defend its presence abroad.
By Dac Collins