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TADA brings blockchain-based, zero-commission ridehailing to Singapore

SINGAPORE-based startup MVL Foundation launched a beta of TADA, its blockchain and digital token-based, zero-commission ridehailing service on Thursday.

The peer-to-peer, on-demand service – touted as Singapore's first such platform – runs on an "incentive-based blockchain mobility ecosystem" called a mass vehicle ledger (MVL). The ecosystem seeks to connect various stakeholders within the vehicle-related industry, including drivers, riders, auto manufacturers and retailers, auto repair service providers and auto insurance companies.

Through MVL, all ride data will be gathered onto a central database such that the entire history of a vehicle can be tracked, stored and readily available to parties in the ecosystem. As part of incentivisation, drivers will be rewarded with MVL points from providing rides (the further the distance, the more points) while riders will earn MVL points from leaving reviews after each ride. MVL points can then be converted into MVL coins, the digital token or cryptocurrency of MVL.

Kay Woo, founder and chief of MVL, said that MVL coins can be cashed out on a cryptocurrency exchange, or used as a means of payments to the other participants in the MVL ecosystem in exchange for goods and services such as gas, repairs or car rental.

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Mr Woo said: “The goal is to build a vertical mobility ecosystem where the MVL token can be used for all sorts of transactions within the mobility industry.”

Under MVL’s model, TADA will charge zero commission to drivers, and will only impose a “negligible” transaction fee (of 3.4 per cent on all credit card payments for rides) for the maintenance of the platform.

Asked how TADA can sustain its operations, Mr Woo said that the ridehailing service can potentially derive revenues in a number of ways. The first is through forming partnerships with car rental or insurance companies, which will have to pay fees to MVL for using its platform to access its drivers and riders. MVL is in talks with a number of such firms.

MVL is also hoping to raise income through the trading of MVL coins, which are currently traded on Idex, a decentralized smart contract exchange based on the popular cryptocurrency Ethereum. As at 1pm on Thursday, MVL was trading at US$0.005, with a total volume of US$21,296 over the last 24 hours.

The third way that TADA can derive revenue is through selling the data of its drivers or riders to third-party participants in the MVL ecosystem, such as an insurance company. Mr Woo noted that MVL does not own the data but provides a platform for data storage.

“The data belongs to the drivers; we will first ask for their consent before we use their data. By providing the platform and service for drivers to collect driving data, MVL will charge the external parties who use this data,” he said.

Since its March 2018 founding, MVL Foundation has raised some US$16 million in funding, which it will use to pay for operations, including the salaries of its 36 employees. The startup is looking to raise more money in 2019, a “strategic investment from a mobility industry player such as a carmaker”, Mr Woo told The Business Times.

TADA, which means "let's ride" in Korean, has amassed 2,000 drivers in Singapore, the company said.