A taxi platform that utilises an auction-based pricing model has been licensed to operate in Dubai. This model removes the commission process, which contributes to “lower prices for riders and higher incomes for drivers”.

Drife, which is touted to be the UAE’s first decentralised ride hailing platform, gives users the option to choose their fares from multiple drivers. For any given ride, a minimum fare is set which is typically 30 per cent higher than standard fares as per Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) regulations. Drivers have the option to offer discounts, maintain the ride's standard fare, or request a premium.

“Riders are then presented with various fare options from different drivers, enabling them to make informed decisions based on their preferences such as price, distance, driver proximity, vehicle type, and driver rating,” Firdosh Sheikh, founder of Drife, told Khaleej Times.

The platform operates on a zero-commission fee structure, “ensuring that up to 100 per cent of the fare paid by the rider goes directly to the driver”. This allows drivers to earn more income and pass on the benefits to riders in the form of savings.

“Without a profit motive in the ride fare, Drife can offer riders affordable fares while ensuring drivers receive their full earnings. To sustain operations, the platform adopts a subscription-based model, where drivers pay a fee to access the platform. Subsequently, all earnings from rides belong entirely to the drivers, fostering a mutually beneficial ecosystem,” said Sheikh.

How drivers can sign up

Once the platform launches later this month, it will start with 1,000 cabs. “We will work with Dubai’s limousine drivers, and then eventually hope to onboard RTA taxis. Riders can hail a Drife taxi from Dubai and travel anywhere in the UAE,” said Sheikh.

Prospective drivers can sign up for the platform by downloading the application and completing the registration process. Documents they must submit include Emirates ID, driving licence, and RTA card. The company conducts “independent background checks” on drivers to ensure safety and security.

“Initially, drivers enjoy a complimentary 30-day subscription period before choosing between daily or monthly subscription plans,” said Sheikh. “Both drivers and riders can earn incentives within the platform for their active participation and engagement.”

Web 3 taxis

The company offers what it calls “taxi 3.0 services”.

“In taxi 3.0, the community, the market and the driver is in control and not anyone else. The market sets the prices; there are no commissions, and only a subscription fee for drivers to use the platform. (For) every ride, the money belongs to the drivers. This direct connection allows for more personalised and customised ride-hailing experiences,” said Sheikh.

The use of blockchain technology ensures transparency of prices, she added.

In the future, users will be able to use the company’s own cryptocurrency — DRF token — once approved by Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority.

“While DRF tokens will be available for payment, traditional methods such as cash, credit, and debit cards will remain the primary payment options during the initial phase. DRF tokens provide users with additional benefits.”

In 2023, the company obtained licences in various cities across India, including Karnataka. At the end of last year, it had more than 350,000 users and 30,000+ drivers.

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