Remote 'off' switch applied to Cambodia taxis
Japanese startup's wireless device service makes car leasing less risky
KOSUKE TOSHI, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO -- When you stop paying your gas bill, you can expect the supply to be turned off. Now, a Japanese startup is applying the same concept to cars leased out to taxi drivers.
The technology developed by Global Mobility Service takes the risk out of leasing vehicles to individuals with little in the way of credit history, and opens doors for drivers who would otherwise struggle to find a lease.
The service relies on a device installed in the vehicle called a Mobility-Cloud Connecting System, which enables lessors to disable the engine remotely if the lessee falls behind in their repayments. The service also enables the vehicle to be located through GPS if it needs to be collected.
The Tokyo startup has already launched the service successfully on three-wheeled taxis in the Philippines and this summer will take the technology to Cambodia, where it will install the device in a fleet of cars RenetJapanGroup will lease to taxi operators.
With Cambodia as the start point, GMS plans further Asian expansion. It plans to enter Thailand by the end of this year.
Renet, which operates a recycling service in Japan, has supported the development of Cambodia's auto regulations as part of its corporate social responsibility program.
The company is now set to launch a joint venture in Cambodia with Tokyo's SBI Holdings to lease cars to local taxi operators at monthly fees of around 10,000 yen and 20,000 yen ($91 to $182).
Starting in late June and through July, MCCS-equipped cars will firstly be driven around to test the system before leasing can begin.
GMS' role is to monitor the leased cars by recording data sent from the device and disable the engines if a taxi company fails to pay the fees on time. As it monitors where the vehicles are, it can also repossess cars if necessary.
The number of drivers remains low among Cambodia's population of roughly 15 million, partly due to underdeveloped registration and taxation systems. But the country expects to see increasing demand for taxis for business and tourism as the economy grows.
Renet's joint venture aims to lease 1,000 cars annually in three years on the back of the growth.
Many people in low-income brackets in emerging countries do not have bank accounts and more often than not are refused credit. By giving lessors a degree of control, GMS' service enables people to afford cars they can use to make the money to repay loans they would otherwise be unable to get.