Controversial ride-hailing platform Grab has announced its plans to introduce a guaranteed income scheme for its driver-partners, following the news that Jakarta-based rival Go-Jek will be entering the Singapore market at the end of November this year.
Findings from an online poll conducted by Facebook group Singapore Private Hire Car Drivers & Riders Community revealed that 86 per cent of some 1,200 respondents said that they would leave Grab in favour of Go-Jek.
In response, Head of Grab Singapore Lim Kell Jay said: "We have been talking to our driver-partners and know that they are unhappy. We also acknowledge that there is a lot more we can do. With their feedback, we have been working hard on a number of new initiatives to address their top concerns."
He proposed that Grab will introduce a tiered rewards programme based on weekly trip targets, the amount of income from which will be topped up should drivers find themselves unable to reach the amount, in spite of meeting targets.
Grab will also bring about other perks, such as offering its drivers $1 breakfasts via partnership with various food and beverage outlets, and reduced prices for fuel.
While Mr Lim took note of complaints by drivers who report getting decreased earnings, and riders having to deal with increasingly higher fares, he claimed that the average fare had actually fallen by 3.4 per cent since the merger with Uber earlier this year.
He added that while "consumers perceive that effective price has gone up," the actual price algorithm has not been affected.
A monitoring trustee appointed by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS), the consumer watchdog that fined Grab for supposedly violating antitrust and competition laws, said Mr Lim, was tasked to monitor Grab's pricing.
"I want to highlight that if prices are too high, passengers will not book. But if they're too low, drivers will not accept jobs.
"We need to strike that balance. We can't let prices go too high or too low if we want to provide a reliable service.
"No point giving you a low price but half the time you can't get a ride," said Mr Lim.
When asked to comment on the entry of Go-Jek into the local ride-hailing market, Mr Lim commented: "Go-Jek, like all competitors who have come into the market in the past, like Uber and EasyTaxi ... always pushed us to be better, to be more innovative.
"Each time a competitor comes in, it pushes us to change our course a little bit."
When probed further as to what he meant by "change our course," Mr Lim replied: "I don't know yet, but we need to remain relevant to our customers."
Netizens have reacted strongly to Grab's new announcement, noting that the potential incentives being rolled out are most likely a knee-jerk reaction to Go-Jek's impending entry:
Several netizens are wary about Grab's new incentive, highlighting that the huge sum of income or earnings will eventually be offset by other terms and conditions such as the high percentage of commission reaped by Grab, astronomical vehical rental costs, and so on:
One netizen highlighted a negative consequence on the part of passengers as a result of Grab's monopoly in the ride-hailing market in Singapore: