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Published on July 12th, 2014 | by admin

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P2P Uber service runs London cabbies up the wrong way

Striking cabbies caused major travel disruption across the capital earlier this month, as part of Europe-wide protests against a disruptive new app peer-to-peer taxi service called Uber. The mobile app, which is currently in use in 100 cities across 37 countries, works by calculating the cost of a fare, allowing private drivers to pick passengers up. There are around 3,000 registered drivers in London alone, and many more in tourism hot spots including Rome, Paris and Berlin.

The argument stems from whether the app should be officially considered a meter, and as such be regulated. London black cab drivers say they don’t fear the competition, but prefer an even playing-field. These protests were condemned by Transport for London, which viewed them as pointless, and Uber itself will have been delighted by the extra business that will have come to their drivers. But are the black cabs, one of the most iconic symbols of British life, threatened by this latest technological development? If anyone can operate a “taxi” without regulation, what implications does that have for safety or resolution of disputes?

Uber has strong financial backing include tech giant Google and Goldman Sachs. The American company is part of a movement of “creative destruction”which is sweeping the world at the moment, and peer-to-peer services are at the heart of it. Whether it be peer-to-peer lending platforms; funding generators such as Kickstarter; home rentals like AirBnB; musical instrument rental, or travel guiding, the internet’s way of connecting people is really starting to shake up the ways we do business and use services.

As experts on peer-to-peer financing, naturally we’re behind other great schemes that follow similar principles, but as with our own industry, appropriate regulation is a must to inspire user confidence. These strikes have certainly drawn attention to the argument presented by London’s cab drivers, and it looks like this dispute isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon. Peer-to-peer’s reputation for disrupting traditional business models does cause friction!

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