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Illegal e-hailing app InDriver has a dodgy payment system

Malaysia E-Hailing Drivers Association (MeHDA) has recently put out a statement saying that they have been recently alerted of an illegal e-hailing operator operating for months in Penang under the name InDriver. According to the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD), the app does not have a Business Mediation License (LPP) to operate.

“Following more complaints and investigations, we found out that InDriver, despite being illegal, allows e-hailing drivers to sign up and go online using the app to ferry passengers even though the drivers do not have a valid Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license. This is also illegal under the law,” wrote MeHDA in their press release.

MeHDA has since lodged a report with the Road Transport Department (JPJ) for further actions. They also call on all e-hailing drivers not to use the app because “in the event of any mishap during rides, the illegal status of InDriver and the drivers would mean both passengers and drivers are not covered by insurance while on the road”.

Testing out the InDriver app

Seeing as InDriver is still in the app store for both iOS and Android, I tried downloading the app to try and test out their features. I was surprised to find out that InDriver is an international app created in Russia after their taxi companies raise their prices to unaffordable levels during the winter.

Registering for the app was quite easy. Just type in your phone number where they will send you a text message with a PIN number. After confirming your number, you can type in your name and email, plus add a profile picture if you’d like.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll see your map and location just like what you’d see in Grab. However, you wouldn’t find InDriver’s location-finding interface to be as intuitive as Grab’s. Typing in ‘Menara’ or another an address for a house will only get you a handful of results, or none at all. Instead, you can always drop a pin on the map itself.

In other e-hailing apps, they’d give you a fare estimation based on your location and where you’d like to go. You also won’t be able to change it. For InDriver, you get to offer your own amount for the fare.

Choosing your own fare is a cool concept, but it feels a bit dodgy. I didn’t know the most appropriate fare price, as I don’t want to underpay or overpay the driver. The feature also does not offer another payment option other than by cash. According to inDriver’s website, you can pay for the ride in cash or via online transfer. Payment by credit card is “not provided in the service” because they explain that it “makes rides even more profitable, as it allows you to avoid additional bank commission”.

I googled the Malaysian cab fare from PJ to KLCC as a reference for my payment offer, but I would have rather gotten a few fare suggestions in the app so I wouldn’t have to look elsewhere. After that, you can have the option to write a comment to the driver and can toggle a feature that lets you book a ride for more than 4 passengers.

I pressed ‘Ride Request’ after typing my fare suggestion. It initially let me book a ride with 10 sen as a test, but when I tried doing it again InDriver wouldn’t let me continue to the next step until I changed my fare to a minimum RM4.

While waiting for a driver to confirm (you’ll see green car icons around you to indicate the available cars), the app notes “RM4 is not attractive enough” and that they recommend me to raise the price—which I can do while waiting. I can add RM1 ringgit and wait to see if a driver accepts it. If there are no bites, I’d add another RM1, but that requires a lot of patience and time.

I tried booking the ride for RM29, about RM7 more than the recommended fare. I instantly got an offer from a driver in my area, and I can choose to accept or decline his offer.

It looks like quite a few drivers are using the InDriver app. It might not be too apparent yet that it’s an illegal app. But since MeHDA lodged a report with JPJ and called on the authorities to act against the company, InDriver will either be forced to comply with eHailing regulations or will have to cease its operations in Malaysia.