A unique program was held last night on Iran national television to discuss the conflicts happening around the rapid emergence of ride-hailing startups.

The program was initially organized to host representatives from Snapp and Tap30 (the two major ride-hailing startups which together have an estimate number of 800k- 1 million app downloads), Iran Cyber Police and Iran Taxi Union. From the invited guests, CEO of Tap30 Milad Monshipoor and the CEO of Iran Taxi Union Masoud Tabibi showed up and sat to talk in front of millions of audience on live national television. The purpose was to bring all of the stakeholders around one table and have the startups answer the questions that are raised from the opposing side. For months, the topic of traditional businesses losing the game to online businesses has been a hot talk and the Taxi Union, Snapp and Tap30 conflict being the cherry on top.

Last night it went beyond newspapers and magazines and escalated to national television. The first topic that was raised was about the licenses and permits these companies have acquired and the ones they perhaps needed to acquire. According to the Tap30 CEO, all necessary permits to operate as an “internet business” have been acquired and the necessary talks regarding security issues of this business has been done with the Cyber Police. Though many disagreements came from Iran Taxi Union on the subject of getting permits from the union as the company is operating in the transportation sector. Tabibi expressed his concerns and strongly believed the main permit required for these businesses lie within Iran Taxi Union which is the representatives of Iran city municipalities. Though two of the guests that joined with a phone call from the Ministry of Technology and Communications and Ministry of Industry disagreed and supported the two companies as they have gotten the necessary permits they were asked to in order to operate. Though the taxi union CEO fully admires the technology as it has brought satisfied users and innovation to the sector. Other talks have been on security, air pollution, permits and more permits.

Just like any other startup that introduces a disruptive innovation, ride-hailing startups also face similar conflicts all around the world. Uber as the largest ride-hailing company in the world is still facing numerous problems in different countries it enters. Recent Uber set backs from some German cities could be a good example to mention. The case in Iran is also a similar case like everywhere in the world with some few minor differences. “ The nature of technology is in a way that it enters different sectors and business,” as said Milad Moshipoor. New technologies also bring new problems and the regulation issues that are faced right now are quite natural as it is a new phenomena that has never appeared before. The program aired last night is a broad example of a new innovative business disrupting the traditional business landscape with no predefined and pre-structured guidelines of how these business should operate.

Security, was also another excuse that was raised from the Tap30 opposers. “Until now, not a single compliant about security was made from our users, and both drivers and passengers are completely satisfied with the products and service they are using”, said Monshipoor. it was also mentioned that not only it is as secure as yellow taxis and agency operated taxis, but it’s actually more secure in any angle as the full information of the drivers are delivered to the passenger and the drivers whereabouts are monitored by the company itself.

The talks went on for 45 minutes and one thing became clear that governmental organizations must become more flexible when it comes to new technologies. During Rouhani’s administration, adoption of technology reached its height, though not all governmental and semi-govermental arms are agile and flexible enough to adopt innovation. Clear procedures and guidelines are needed to set new rules for legally structuring a new innovation once it appears in the fastest time as possible, is a current vital need.

As Iran’s startup and innovation boom is happening, we will definitely witness more of these conflicts which hover around digital businesses disrupting traditional businesses.

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