When developing markets lead

In an earlier post, I wrote about how our taxi hailing app Bitaksi introduced a number masking feature well before its international counterparts like Uber, Olacabs, and GrabTaxi.

It turns out that number masking isn’t the only feature that Bitaksi introduced before its global counterparts. Last week, Uber announced that it is partnering with prepaid debit card provider GreenDot’s GoBank to give drivers a debit card from GoBank that will let them access their earnings immediately. Prior to this partnership, drivers had to wait for up to 4 days for payments to hit their bank account.

Bitaksi has been offering its drivers a similar service through its partnership with prepaid debit card provider Ininal, where we’re also investors, for about 2 years. Bitaksi drivers with an Ininal card are able to access their earnings on the same day that they perform the service.

The reason why Bitaksi and Ininal partnered to offer this service much earlier than Uber and GreenDot is because of the greater demand for such a service in Turkey than in developed markets. A smaller fraction of taxi drivers in Turkey have a bank account relative to drivers in developed markets, and these drivers operate on a much tighter budget which requires that they be able to access their daily earnings in order to pay their medallion owners.

Fred Wilson recently wrote about how people in developing markets have very different needs that can be met with a smartphone than people in developed markets. Many innovations in the types of services that are offered through smartphones are therefore likely to be created by developing market entrepreneurs.

This is true not only for services offered through smartphones, but all services. The partnership between Bitaksi and Ininal is a great example.