Competition watchdog bars Grab from accessing Uber's operational data

Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has banned Grab from taking over operational data from Uber, which can be used to enhance its market position post-merger talks against other transport providers such as ComfortDelGro. This includes data such as historical trip data, the watchdog said.

However, Grab may receive personal data of drivers, riders and merchants who have expressly opted in and moved to the Grab platform. This includes the names, contact details, and supporting documents for vocation licence applications, the statement read.

The ban comes amid a set of interim measures the CCCS has issued to both Grab and Uber in a bid to ensure that the market “remains open and contestable”. It also follows earlier concerns raised by the watchdog which called for the postponement of the merger, first to 8 April, then 15 April and now 7 May 2018.

Other interim measures include the removal of exclusivity obligations on drivers, preserving pre-transaction pricing and commission levels, and ensuring drivers and riders are free to choose their preferred platform. It also ensures drivers involved with Lion City Rental (LCR), Uber’s tie-up with ComfortDelGro, are also not penalised directly or indirectly as a result of merger conditions.

It also called for Grab to cease its exclusivity arrangements with all taxi fleets in Singapore. This is provided that there are no exclusivity arrangements in Singapore between any taxi fleets and any third-party ride-hailing platform other than Grab, and that all taxi operators permit their respective taxi drivers to drive for any third-party ride-hailing platform for metered and fixed fare jobs. An independent monitoring trustee will also be appointed to monitor the compliance of the measures.

Grounds for the interim measures

CCCS has reiterated the grounds for the interim measures are due to the close competition seen by both Grab and Uber, along with their significant combined market share. The statement added that their close rivalry can also be seen from the surge in Uber’s fares following the recent outages of Grab’s app.

Other factors include high barriers to entry due to strong network effects. In particular, many drivers are constrained by exclusivity arrangements such that they can only drive for one ride-hailing platform, CCCS explained. This makes it difficult for a new ride-hailing platform to attract drivers.

As a result, new entrants to the ride hailing economy would require significant investments in order to attract drivers and riders to move over Grab, so as to build up a critical mass of users. New entrant would also likely have to continue sustained investment in order to compete with the incumbent ride-hailing platform.

“[The measures are] necessary to prevent further transfers and preserve CCCS’s ability to make appropriate directions if CCCS makes a finding of infringement at the end of CCCS’s investigations to remedy, mitigate or eliminate any adverse effects of such infringement,” the statement added.

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