Uber Wins Australia Regulator Praise on Taxi Competition

Australia’s main competition regulator welcomed the technology used by ride-hailing companies such as Uber Technologies Inc., lauding the choice the services give consumers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received complaints about the taxi industry for a long time, with mergers increasing concentration and making it difficult to maintain a competitive market, Chairman Rod Sims said in an interview in Sydney on Thursday. Services such as those provided by Uber, Ingogo Pty and Taxi Apps Pty are making his job easier, he said.

“Any concerns people used to have about competition in the taxi industry are essentially a thing of the past,” Sims said. “Technology will solve whatever problems that all of us have had about competition in the taxi industry.”

Sims’ stance is in contrast with taxi operators and governments from China to Colombia and South Korea that have complained about services such as Uber that allow people to use smartphones to hail rides from drivers. San Francisco-based Uber has expanded to more than 250 cities across the world, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The service is currently operating in Australian jurisdictions even as state authorities have expressed concern about the provision of rides by unaccredited drivers. Fines have been issued against unauthorized motorists offering ride-share services in breach of laws in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, according to local media.

In Australia, access to a 39-year old national taxi-payments system run by Cabcharge Australia Ltd. has been a particular source of complaint, Sims said. In addition to running an electronic payment system used in about 97 percent of the nation’s taxis, Cabcharge also owns the nation’s largest taxi operators, according to its website.

Uber, which is rapidly raising money as it works to expand globally, has also faced concerns over passenger safety and its privacy policies.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.