Number masking on taxi apps

I read a VentureBeat post this morning about how Southeast Asian taxi hailing app GrabTaxi introduced a number masking feature this week. Basically, number masking allows passengers and drivers on taxi and car hailing apps to communicate with each other without sharing their phone numbers. This is an important feature which protects the privacy of both passengers and drivers.

GrabTaxi’s introduction of this feature follows Uber and Olacabs which introduced the feature in September. More interestingly, Turkey’s leading taxi hailing app Bitaksi, where we’re investors, has had this feature since last April.

First, many user needs are universal. We often point to different user habits for the same service across different geographies. The greater preference for cash payments over credit card payments for taxi and car hailing apps in Turkey relative to the US is one example. However, there are also many user needs which overlap. Number masking is a great example. In these cases, it’s useful to follow what other companies offering the same service in other markets are doing as a source of inspiration for your local offering.

Second, innovation can come from anywhere. Uber, Olacabs, and GrabTaxi are each larger than Bitaksi. They operate in more countries and complete more rides than Bitaksi. However, Bitaksi introduced the number masking feature 5 months before its competitors. This pioneering spirit makes me proud of the Bitaksi team.