Following US$1 bln investment in China, Uber sees Asia operations eclipsing those in US
Uber's ride-hailing mobile app business in Asia is expected to soon surpass the company’s operations in the United States, helped by its aggressive expansion in China and friendly transport regulations elsewhere in the continent.
“In the next couple of months, [Asia] will be bigger [for us] than the US,” Sam Gellman, general manager at Uber Hong Kong, said on Thursday.
"The business in this part of the world has grown significantly faster than our businesses in Europe and the US,” he said during a panel at the second South China Morning Post Game Changers forum in Hong Kong.
Gellman did not provide details about the size of growth in Asia, but said Uber’s efforts in the Chinese mainland reflected the bullish prospects there and throughout the region.
In his widely reported e-mail last week, Uber founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick said the San Francisco-based company will invest more than US$1 billion in China this year.
“Simply stated, China is the #1 priority for Uber’s global team,” he wrote.
The investment comes after the company raised US$1.5 billion in its latest round of fundraising, which put its value upwards of US$50 billion.
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Uber plans to launch in 50 more cities in China this year with populations above five million. It already operates in Beijing, Shanghai and nine other mainland Chinese cities, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Uber drivers now complete nearly one million trips a day in China, where the company’s business has doubled in the last month, Kalanick wrote.
Such staggering claims of growth come amid much anti-Uber feeling from both Chinese taxi drivers and the central government. The former have launched protests across the country in recent months against car-hailing apps. Uber had two of its offices in southern China raided by the government earlier this year.
Kalanick went on to say that China now accounts for four of Uber's 10 busiest cities, making the country its No 2 market after the US.
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Gellman said another significant development in Asia was the decision in May by Manila to legalise all ride-hailing services in the country.
"It is the first country in the world to allow Uber and other app-based transport services to operate nationwide," he said.
Uber is currently available in 49 cities across Asia.
Not resting on its laurels, Uber on Thursday widened its mobile payment options in the region. Uber drivers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Auckland, New Zealand can now use PayPal, the two companies announced.
Matthew Lee, vice-president of PayPal North Asia, said the integration provided a secure payment platform for users.