Didi Chuxing’s new English app can translate what you say to Chinese drivers
Didi Chuxing, China’s dominant ride-hailing service, is finally opening its app to visitors into the country, with an English version that was just released.
Impressively, the English interface — which was being tested since February this year — includes an in-app text messaging translation service that lets passengers communicate with drivers, even if they don’t write or speak Chinese.
The feature will be available in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and users who update their Didi app there will be able to access the app’s English interface, the company said in a statement.
Making its interface available in English will no doubt be useful to more than 600,000 foreigners who live in China, as well as the tens of millions of tourists per annum in the country, who have no choice but to take a regular cab.
China’s expat community was left in the lurch after Uber’s China operations were acquired by Didi in August last year. The two were tussling for market share, but Uber ultimately threw in the towel to the far stronger Didi.
The ride-hailing giant, which raised a record $5.5 billion in April this year, will also accept payments using international credit cards, and users from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, UK, France, Canada, U.S. and Brazil can now register for a Didi account.
Didi is steadily making plans to go global
Didi says translating its app interface into English is part of its efforts to go global. “The internationalisation of local services is an important part of Didi’s global strategy,” the company said in a statement.
The company had unveiled an international division to explore how it could expand overseas in February, reported the South China Morning Post.
Didi has also suffered a series of setbacks on home ground, when local governments in Beijing and Shanghai tightened regulations on non-local cars.
The company ended up having to exclude non-Beijing licence plates from operating in the capital, reports the Financial Times.
“[Didi has] to expand abroad because they’re being hit by the regulators at home,” Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, told the Financial Times.
The company has stated that it would invest in countries where other local ride-sharing companies don’t have a strong presence.
The company moved into Brazil in January this year by making a strategic partnership with 99, a Brazilian ride-hailing platform.
Didi is providing support for 99’s technology development and planning, and will share expertise on its algorithms for driver management and traffic to 99, which has over 140,000 drivers and 10 million users in Brazil.
Didi had made an earlier move to offer its service globally, with an alliance with three other ride-hailing giants — Ola in India, Grab in Southeast Asia, and Lyft in the U.S. The alliance was quietly called off in March this year.