Cambodia government officials are increasingly turning to encrypted messaging services over regular phone lines. Source: AP

Uber inches closer to Cambodia launch with test drives in Phnom Penh

UBER has reportedly been testing out its application and service in Phnom Penh, readying itself to become the first Western technology giant to introduce the ride-hailing service in Cambodia.

As reported by The Phnom Penh Post, drivers have become officially registered as drivers under the biggest ride-sharing service in the world. A Post reporter tested out the service, noting that the app works as expected in the city, without any real differences. Currently in “test mode”, Uber is now only accessibly to riders who have a special promotional code provided by the company.

For the trip, Uber has also made available the choice for riders to pay with either cash or by card, a feature implemented to accommodate Asia’s cash-reliant societies. It’s particularly useful in cities such as Phnom Penh, where the credit card penetration rate is still a relatively low 22 percent, though that number is growing.

According to the report by the Post, the driver their reporter engaged had only managed to complete a single ride, signalling that the company’s expansion into the country will have to do some major work to reach out to potential riders. The driver also noted that he signed up with Uber as a side-gig, in order to supplement his actual job as a full-time private taxi driver.

Uber is competing with several homegrown ride-sharing services including Singaporean Grab and Indonesian Go-Jek for space in Southeast Asia’s transportation market. Source: Shutterstock

Uber first registered in Cambodia back in May, though has yet to make any formal announcements of their launch in the country. The establishment of the Cambodian service would dovetail with its recently launched operation in neighboring Burma (Myanmar).

This might signal the company’s seriousness about competing in a market where homegrown players such as Grab and Go-Jek already own significant portions of the local market share and widespread brand recognition.

SEE ALSO: Uber to partner with taxis in Burma expansion drive – exec

It is worth noting that last April, Uber had met with transport officials, including Transportation Minister Sun Chanthol, in order to settle on the company’s role in any future ride-sharing regulations that might emerge in the near future. Cambodia does not currently have regulations aimed at monitoring the ride-sharing market, but should industry players begin ramping up efforts in the country, one can be sure rules are on their way.