Uber launches new campaign in Taiwan despite risk of heavier fines

Ride-hailing company Uber launched a promotional campaign in Taiwan on Monday, days after the Legislature passed a law amendment that would allow fines of up to NT$25 million (US$782,901) against entities that operate illegal passenger transportation services in the country.

As part of its promotional campaign, Uber is offering a NT$10,000 coupon to customers who post a selfie with an Uber driver on Facebook and a hashtag of a specified Uber message during the period Dec. 19-30.

"Regardless of the obstacles along the road, no matter how many small rocks blocking the way, Uber strives to walk with you," the company said on its homepage.

The recent amendment to the Highway Act, which is in effect targeted at the San Francisco-based company, increases the fines against operators like Uber from between NT$50,000 and NT$150,000 to between NT$100,000 and NT$25 million.

It also states that providers of illegal transportation services could be forced to shut down and it has established a reward system to encourage the reporting of such illegal practices.

In addition, the amendment states that drivers caught working for an illegal ride-sharing company will have both their vehicle registration and driver's license terminated or suspended for four to 12 months.

Uber was registered in Taiwan four years ago as an information services company, but local taxi drivers have accused the company of illegally operating a transportation service. It reportedly has more than 10,000 drivers locally and its app has been downloaded 1 million times in Taiwan.

The government has imposed multiple fines on Uber on the basis that it is operating illegally in Taiwan but the service has continued, sparking major protests by local taxi drivers who have accused Uber drivers of not paying taxes on their income like licensed cab drivers do.

As of Dec. 16, Uber had accumulated fines of NT$66.05 million for 465 violations, while Uber drivers had been fined a total of NT$20.028 million, according to the transportation ministry.

Of the total amount, the company had paid NT$62.86 million, the ministry said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel