ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

AsterRide takes on Uber in battle to lure consumers with convenience

mobile application-based taxi-hailing operation going head-to-head with market leader Uber, is leveraging consumers’ desire for convenience while supporting local cab and limo businesses.

AsterRide works directly with taxi and limo companies, and offers both on-demand and advanced bookings, which it says differentiate it from most competitors. The company’s broadening rollout across the United States reflects how the convenience mobile affords is pushing the seamless integration of mobile functionality and real-life service.

“Customers want a great experience and like the fact they don’t have to call, email or text a driver any more as the apps on a smartphone make it convenient,” said Seth Rudin, asterRide’s CEO and vice president of client services. “They love the fact they don’t have to share their personal credits with drivers whom they may have not met before or use their precious cash they reserved for their travels.

“Our onboarding process of drivers is in the best interest of our passengers,” he said. “We only allow city and county permitted transportation companies to accept our rides and they must show evidence of background checks and commercial insurance.”  

Downloading app
AsterRide’s ride service covers licensed and insured taxis, sedans, luxury sedans, SUVs, limousines and vans. It has rolled out in Phoenix and will be coming soon to Los Angeles, Seattle, Orlando, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco and other metropolitan areas.

Understanding the user’s preferences

To order a ride, users download the asterRide app. They walk through a set up to help the app understand their preferences, making future preference-based bookings easy to arrange.

Users submit credit card information through the app to PayPal-owned Braintree, which has an encrypted database for storing credit card information.

“The customer only has to enter this once and then each order that is completed is charged as a single line item to their credit cards,” Mr. Rudin said.

Advance booking allows for a fare estimate based on location.

After a ride is booked, the passenger is notified when the driver is on his way and when he arrives at the pick-up location.

Once the driver confirms he has the right passenger, the ride begins.

Adding tip
When the ride is finished, the app asks the rider if he would like to add a tip before issuing an electronic receipt and thank-you note.

“Passengers like that they can track their driver and to maintain their booking history and electronic receipts,” Mr. Rudin said. “They no longer have to keep paper receipts and then scan them for their travel purposes. 

“Passengers also enjoy being kept aware of the driver’s status from the time of booking to arrival,” he said.

Riders are charged market rates.

“The fares charged by the taxis are their rates as we are referring rides directly to our taxi partners,” Mr. Rudin said. “Our black car services’ rates are very competitive and reasonable. 

“The rates will be more than a ride share service who drives their personal car as all of our cars carry commercial insurance to protect both the passengers and the drivers in the vehicle as well as meeting the local licensing requirements set forth in each market we operate,” he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.