Four months after China’s ride-hailing service
Following the move, there is now an Uber app only for users in China, and a separate app for the rest of the of the world, the Shanghaiist reported.
While the new China-made app, which was developed in cooperation with Didi, may look similar to the previous version of Uber China, there are some notable differences. First, users need to have a Chinese mobile phone number and a valid Chinese digital payment method — such as Union Pay, Alipay or Baidu Wallet — in order to create a new account.
This means that Uber’s services in China are no longer usable for foreigners visiting the country or people who don’t hold the required payment options.
“We apologize to our users for any inconvenience may be caused by this transition. The Uber China team has been working hard to make the new version faster-responding and more user friendly,” Uber China/Didi told TechCrunch in a statement.
Visitors will also have to learn Chinese as Didi’s own apps are only available in the language and require a local phone number as well.
China’s most popular ride-sharing company, formerly Didi Kuaidi, said it will roll out “multilingual, international features” in the future, but did not give a specific date for the upgrades.
The new changes were announced in October, and it encouraged people who use Uber China to switch over to the upgraded app.
The local app did bring some small improvements earlier in November, with round-the-clock customer support and WeChat messenger integration.
“Uber China is now a different legal entity and needs to reflect that in its app signature, contractual relations, etc., as the acquisition deal requires,” a Didi representative told Mashable, adding that the app is part of a “phased transition plan” to maintain services for existing users of Uber China.
The company said recently that it plans to expand outside of China, but it’s unclear on what that would mean. But Didi could grow organically or make acquisitions of other ride-hailing services such as Grab in Southeast Asia, Ola in India or Lyft in the U.S.