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internationalisation

eCabs primed for internationalisation by June 2023

eCabs, Malta’s very own and only flag bearing ride-hailing platform powered by its proprietary technology and innovation powerhouse Cuorium Technologies, expects to reach its first landmark milestone in its internationalisation efforts by June 2023.

With consistent investment in technology talent and an unwavering resolve to expand in major EU cities, eCabs is now yielding the goals that could elevate Malta’s corporate and technology credentials on an international scale.

Business Today sat down with Matthew Bezzina, Chief Executive Officer at Cuorium Technologies and Luca Di Michele, Chief Technology Officer to grasp an insight into one of the most exciting commercial ventures growing in Malta, charting the path for the eCabs flag to be sported in European cities.

Recently, eCabs has undergone a significant restructuring of its operations. Luca was promoted to Chief Technology Officer at eCabs. Matthew moved on to become the CEO of Cuorium Technologies while Andrew Bezzina was named the CEO of eCabs.

How did this major transformation come about?

Luca Di Michele: In 2019 I spearheaded the establishment of our proprietary ride hailing technology. Three years have flown by like a flash. It is extremely satisfying to look back and see how much ground we have covered and the growth we have achieved, moving us far ahead enough to make this quantum leap into the international market. During this period, we have gone through exciting phases of renewal and transformation, building a highly competent, enthusiastic team of dedicated professionals who are driven by an incredible passion and the ambition for creating ahead-of-the-curve mobility technologies and solutions.

Matthew Bezzina: Our joint efforts have resulted into impressive growth, despite the international economic climate and the upheaval caused by the pandemic. Faced with these challenges we had some fundamental choices to make. We could have either retrenched and focused on keeping on winning the local market battles or aspire to become an international brand in mobility technology and provision of ride-hailing services. We could have decided to do like many others and just invest in property or take the plunge and the risk that comes with a significant shareholder investment of €7 million. Today, we are reaping the first dividends of these decisions, wherein despite all the headwind we faced we now have a platform created in Malta that is ready to go beyond our borders and proudly fly our national flag in this growing tech driven industry.

How does this restructuring effort feature in the growth path of the Company and its platform?

MB: Our organisation’s transformation journey started kicked off in 2017 and has been through multiple iterations. However it was towards the end of 2019 that we really changed gears and growth accelerated in a flywheel effect as soon as the pandemic hit the globe. The pandemic had the effect of a giant pause button on the industry which gave us the space to shape our platform, build a multicultural team, spin-off a technology company with one of the largest cadre of developers on the island and start charting the path towards our international aspirations. The bottom line was that of thinking out of the box, keep eyes on the ball and act with agility.

LDM: My development team has grown from an in-house cosy group of four people to a more than 50-strong talented team serving as the foundation, engine and R&D for our own technology platform. What each one of us at eCabs Technologies learns is that working here brings a massive advantage for technologists to test their skills against the world’s bests, whilst learning, developing themselves, and growing into leadership positions as the company matures.

“A huge competitive advantage”

MB: An essential part of this success has also been the huge competitive advantage of having everything we need from an operational perspective within a 100-meter radius. Our headquarters practically resemble a giant laboratory with the ability to have on-field testing and instant feedback of results. We have also been blessed with the immeasurable benefit of direction from over a decade of operational knowledge and experience which facilitates development and improvements at speed, whilst competing with the world’s largest and most-funded players. Competing with the ilk of Bolt and now Uber has been a blessing with both companies backed by billions of Euros in funding, respectively. We’re playing in the champions’ league, which forces us to be the absolute best we can be and always aspire to be better and measure up against these technology giants.

What are the tangible results of your organisation’s development approach?

LDM: Our investments in Cuorium Technologies and eCabs have made us a considerable technology and software development business dedicated to mobility. We can stand out in the local market based on such a solid foundation.

MB: For the last two years we have been very busy reinventing our platform with our own IP and closing the gaps we needed to realise our ultimate vision. We brought the pre-pandemic consumer app experience up to the highest degree with multiple improvements in terms of usability, automation, system robustness and features, enabling our platform to be more competitive.

LDM: We also built the entire partner driver model from scratch and the extensive technology that is behind it. All these technologies are in a constant state of evolution and improvement. In this respect we have started our journey to take our technology to its next evolutionary chapter in machine learning, a project that allows our teams to leverage a multitude of our data points in the Google Cloud Learning Platform. This evolution gives us real-time, machine-enabled analysis and actions to scale quickly through big data driven decisions, as we integrate our proprietary technology with Google’s platform. The technology is in a constant state of evolution which will keep maturing and requiring best of breed talent who are eager to challenge themselves.

What are the challenges that you expect to face in the international markets?

MB: We are in a quickly evolving market of fierce competition fuelled by an ever-increasing demand for various mobility solutions as city-dwellers are more likely to leave their own cars behind, seeking alternatives to public transport for shorter and faster urban journeys.

LDM: When we made a tough decision to rebuild all our technology assets to establish our own intellectual property platform, we managed to create proprietary technology, supporting our great achievements in Malta as a unique multi-booking platform. Whilst the app market is set to grow from a current 40% to 46% by 2025 in the EU, the market is still dominated by traditional ride hailing booking means, and our platform uniquely offers the best of both worlds. We expect to leverage the capabilities and power of our one-of-a-kind platform and transpose it in other jurisdictions.

MB: We are also cognizant of the challenge that international markets hold for us, despite being firm believers in our platform, technology, and people. Global market penetration is always difficult for Maltese companies as our local market is small and isolated. Yet, we see our success in the local market, which is saturated by mobility solutions from international tech giants, as a testament to our international competitiveness on equal footing. We know that our IP is driving us to differentiate ourselves in international markets with positive feedback from foreign investors, whose due diligence has identified the eCabs platform as unique and at par with the best-in-class.

What can support you in being successful internationally?

LDM: As we are growing into one of the largest software firms in Malta exclusively dedicated to the development of our mobility innovations and technology solutions, we also keep onboarding further highly skilled professional talent to support the expansion of our expertise in, but not limited to, machine learning, data science, cloud-computing, cloud-based architecture, edge-environment management, internet of things application integration and mapping services.

MB: Our ambitious journey off the shores of Malta will be supported by our dedicated multicultural teams. They are committed to developing flagship technology and innovative solutions, making it available across cities globally as we expand. Of course, the perennial challenge to raise finance for technology products remains an uphill struggle which however we are confident will be overcome with the priceless support of the financing institutions. 2023 will make the start of this new chapter a reality for the Company, our employees and our country.

In the press:

Business Today

record growth

Record growth and innovation at eCabs

eCabs’ CEO Matthew Bezzina met The Malta Business Weekly for an insight into how the company’s business has changed since the onset of the pandemic, and the way forward from here. “eCabs registered record numbers throughout the summer months, defying the general economic and tourism downward trends. This success boils down to strategic focus and an incessant investment in people and technology,” he says.

Business wise, do you feel eCabs are over the worst of the pandemic hit? 

The pandemic hit us worse than most other sectors because our business thrives on mobility and connecting people. Two elements decimated through social distancing restrictions. But we believed the crisis was temporary and we bounced back, gaining tremendous growth and market share. An independent survey ranked us as the leading local ride-hailing service provider in Malta. This summer, we managed to exceed 2019 volumes (incidentally a record year) in a summer market that has seen a 75% drop in incoming tourism numbers. Throughout Covid, the team showed impressive stamina and commitment. And we are now reaping the benefits of all that hard work with healthy double-digit growth over the best year the company has ever had. The indicators couldn’t look any better. 

What do you attribute this post-pandemic success to? 

We stuck to our vision without allowing the pandemic to disrupt us. We amplified our focus on every tactical decision, optimised costs, tapped into new sources of business, and ensured we kept adapting to evolving circumstances. Furthermore, the team’s all hands-on-deck commitment, complemented by shareholders’ determination to accelerate investment in technology was another factor. So, 17 months on, we are stronger than ever, with a much-improved product and a best-in-class fully-owned mobility tech platform used daily by over 800 partner drivers with a consistent growth of 5-star customer rating. 

What do you think of the new normal? 

Smooth seas never bred skilled sailors. Covid made us bring the best in us all both emotionally and commercially. From an HR perspective, the new normal ushered in a new breed of determined team members and today, we are together stronger, grittier, faster and more motivated. Of course, there was collateral damage but we also learnt some great positive lessons.  

What are your predictions for the coming months? 

From a business and market share perspective we are expecting the same growth patterns of the last quarter. Covid has readjusted travel and behavioural patterns, so we expect to see the same positive tourism numbers throughout the rest of Q4. Locally, decreases in costs and subsequently in pricing have driven further adoption of our service. We are committed to remain the ride-hailing service with the shortest waiting time at the best prices as we strive to reflect these optimisations on customer prices. The medium term is looking even better as mobility grows but we are excited by our north star: the internationalisation of our technology operations into multiple regions as of next year. 

eCabs has been increasingly focusing on the technology side of business. Does this now define the organisation?  

eCabs today is a mobility product and technology company employing over 50 technologists with 10 nationalities in 5 different countries. The number increased substantially over the past 17 months and will be exponentially growing in the medium to long term as we continue building our fully IP-owned tech platform drawing upon 11 years of invaluable experience operating in one of the world’s most dense road networks. We see the future in our mobility business as one that is defined by data aggregation and machine learning. To enable machine-made decisions at speed and scale as well as exponential improvements and product automation. This level of intensive optimisation will enable us to be always faster and cheaper, without ever compromising on service levels. 

eCabs record growth

The concept of sustainability increasingly dominates the agenda. Where are you at with your project launched earlier this year to operate a fully Eco-friendly fleet by 2025? Is this project really feasible? 

To date, our Eco cab category in our app allows clients the option to order Eco vehicles. We also added 120 Partner Drivers using Eco vehicles by giving financial incentives, so they keep investing in green vehicles. Furthermore, we have added three fully-electric cabs to our existing hybrids. This is part of a pilot project to assess industry adaptability and feasibility. Government needs to invest more in the right charging infrastructure and to incentivise fleet-conversion. We also need constant communication with all stakeholders, especially government and regulators, to design incentives for partner drivers and fleet operators to shift to cleaner vehicles. The project is as feasible as all the stakeholders make it.  

eCabs currently operates with over 800 partner drivers. Why do you call them ‘partner drivers’?  

The term ‘partner driver’ replaced the industry term ‘self-employed driver’ and reflects the relationship we want to have with our drivers. Our partner drivers are crucial stakeholders just like our clients. Although our group owns a fleet, many other fleets work on our platform. Today, the majority of trips are fulfilled by our growing list of partner drivers. They go through a rigorous onboarding process to be allowed to offer our service. We nurture consistent and open communication with all our partners because this is the only way a sustainable industry can thrive. 

What kept you back from implementing the partner driver model before? 

Unlike others in the market, we always worked within the parameters of the regulatory framework. This took a long time. It was only in October 2020, following a period of consultation, that the new regulations for “Light Passenger Transport Services” were launched. This consequently regularised the position of all partner drivers. We also started onboarding partner drivers. And in a matter of months our success was beyond expectations. Success that is due to our approach where partner drivers are not considered as numbers, but business partners who invested in their vehicle and want to provide an exceptional service to our joint client-base. 

What other milestones have defined eCabs’ operations over the past year?   

The past year was all about technology. We launched our own very successful and advanced in-App-based loyalty scheme eCabs Circle, whilst re-building and enhancing our own App with multiple iterations. Most of our new tech made our system more robust and scalable and led to the new partner driver platform which was inexistent. The future should bring us more technology to keep on reinventing the next mobility game-changer. 

In the press:

The Malta Business Weekly

Green

The green way forward

By Matthew Bezzina, CEO of eCabs

It had to take a deadly pandemic to finally get the world population out of its slumber and embrace the need to save our planet from irreparable damage. Green seems to be the most common buzzword to emerge out of the ongoing pandemic but, by all means, it is justified. Of course, this is not a sudden change but a result of a slow process which has now reached tipping point.

For a few months, last year, around March and April, we were able to witness what it meant to have very few cars on the road as economic activity slowed down. The air was clear; the country, although eerily deserted, more beautiful than it was for ages. Asthma sufferers breathed a sigh of relief.

That seems to contrast heavily with the stark warning coming out of an NSO publication earlier this year highlighting the fact that this country has reached a staggering 400,000 registered vehicles on our roads. That number, being close to Malta’s population, is a wake-up call to all of us that we must now take the decisive step to move towards a truly green economy.

European Green Deal

This pandemic has taught us an important lesson: when faced with severe and immediate health risks, people responded. Because we believed that the virus posed such a risk, we took action, collectively. Previously, while most of us are, to a certain extent, aware that the world faced a climate emergency, there was no feeling of immediate concern and action was slow. This has now changed.

Sustainability has been abused as a term for a couple of decades at least but it lies at the heart of the changes we will need to embark upon. Our future and that of our children will be significantly affected by the flights and trips we avoid, the quality of the household goods we choose to buy (or not to), the kind of electricity we use and how we dispose of our waste. Each to his or her own but that will drive real change on a large scale.

The good thing about all this is that, as a nation, we are not alone in this vision. Over the past months, the European Union has pushed forward an unprecedented Green Deal, which has tied considerable EU funding to the green transition. This will hopefully provide us, as a country, with the necessary boost, resource and financial-wise, to prop up the measures we take locally.

However, no government can bring this change alone and neither can a handful of private companies. This will require collective action. While, at eCabs, innovation and change are a raison d’etre of our own existence, we have witnessed the rapid transformation in people’s minds throughout the past months.

A ‘Cleaner eCabs Future’

The experience of people sharing stories of what should have been a normal thing to do – like walking through a popular promenade without soaking up exhaust fumes from the hundreds of vehicles slowly moving along the road’s traffic – inspired us to take our innovative efforts further.

The events of the past year strengthened our resolve to cement our vision for reducing our impact on the air quality in our country and spearhead a ‘Cleaner eCabs Future’ in everything that we will be doing going forward, including in the future development of our owned spaces.

We are kickstarting this off by committing to an ambitious goal of fully electrifying our fleet by 2025, an investment that will be a substantial one.

I believe this is the future that beckons. Covid-19 has made us all more conscious that green is the way forward. Every business will, ultimately, take this road. If it is not because of intrinsic belief, it will happen because our customers, advisers and banks will, at some point, question our sustainability. We are committed to take a leading role in this drive.

Our nation, our families, deserve this.

In the press:

The Times of Malta

Green

eCabs to be 100% Green by 2025

Mobility company eCabs is embarking on an ambitious project that will see it run entirely on green vehicles by 2025.

eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina announced this initiative in the presence of Minister for Energy, Enterprise, and Sustainable Development Miriam Dalli.

Minister Dalli welcomed this investment as a strong signal by the private sector that wants to be part of the Government’s vision to decarbonise the economy by 2050.

“The private sector will find the Government on its side in its transition towards a more sustainable economy. My Ministry, together with other government entities, is working hard on a holistic strategy that will help encourage the take up of zero and low-emission vehicles,” Dr Dalli said.

She explained that a further take up by the private sector will help Malta reach its targets. “We can only reach our national targets if everyone is onboard. The Government is doing its part to encourage and facilitate the use of methods that are less harmful towards the environment, both financially and logistically,” the Minister said.

On his part, Mr Bezzina welcomed the commitment from Government adding: “The project to electrify our whole fleet and install all the required infrastructure will mean a significant investment by eCabs, which does require equal commitment from Government to ensure that the infrastructure to support electric mobility be implemented. This support given to this vision is welcome and encouraging”.

eCabs’ ongoing vision towards becoming more green

The electrification process has started with the launch of a number of fully electric vehicles including models from KIA, Hyundai and Citroen that join the existing hybrid vehicles in the eCabs fleet.

Mr Bezzina continued that positives could be taken from the sacrifices all had to endure in 2020, “The restrictions during last year’s lockdown sent our industry into a spiral, but on a more positive note less traffic meant reduced air pollution and cleaner air for everyone. The country although eerily deserted, was more liveable than it was for ages. This strengthened our resolve to cement our ongoing vision towards becoming even more sustainable and inspired our eCabs Greener Future initiative,” stated Matthew Bezzina.

“We are seeking more sustainable and cleaner operations in everything we are doing, including the future development of our owned spaces as well as a sustainable framework which includes incentivising and supporting our partner drivers to follow in these footsteps,” added Mr. Bezzina.

Concurrently and in support to this commitment, eCabs will also be launching a scheme to incentivise its partner drivers to invest in EVs or Hybrids including an improved financial model and other frameworks.

eCabs officially launched its Partner Drivers initiative late last year following the Public Service Garage reform concluded and launched by Government. The initiative offers self-employed drivers the opportunity to work for Malta’s leading home-grown mobility provider non-exclusively, essentially allowing drivers to increase their revenue stream possibilities, much needed in these troubling times.

In the press:

The Times of Malta | Who’s Who | Lovin Malta | Bay.com.mt | Gozo News

human dignity

Human dignity must always remain a priority

Malta must adopt a proactive approach in creating a way of providing platform workers with basic protection. It must also safeguard their human dignity, says eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina.

COVID 19 has exposed the ugly side of gig work. This has left vulnerable workers exposed to the brutality of operating in an unregulated market.

As the pandemic tore through economies highly dependent on tourism and travel, ride-hailing drivers witnessed their incomes dwindle. This consequently forced them to work long inhumane hours in deteriorating conditions. It also provided opportunities, and accelerated the rise of delivery, creating industries requiring new skill sets and adjustments to pay expectations.

On the demand side, customers also crave the convenience of meals delivered to their homes and offices and taxi rides that are just a tap away. On the supply side, workers grasp the opportunity to work in a flexible manner.

The gig economy is here to stay. In the spirit of fairness and sustainability, Malta must adopt a proactive approach in creating a ‘third way’ of regulating platform/gig economy work, and provide platform workers basic protection from unforeseen economic cycles, seasonal shocks in demand, and on-the-job injuries.

A thriving business should never come at the cost of human dignity. Let’s not wake up when it’s too late.

In the press:

Malta Today

R&D Dr Bernard Grech

eCabs proof that R&D is way forward for country

Malta should direct serious investment towards R&D, says Opposition Leader Dr Bernard Grech.

“Maltese culture is not inducive of risk. Few people are willing to take risks and this is why a company like eCabs who 10 years ago took a leap of faith and courage, needs to be a role model for tomorrow’s generations,” Opposition Leader Dr Bernard Grech said during a visit to eCabs’ Head Offices in St Julian’s.

Malta should put R&D at the top of its priorities

The Opposition Leader praised eCabs for its long-term vision that notwithstanding the challenges, persevered for 10 years with unwavering determination and courage, invested in innovation and technology and become a leader in mobility.

“Malta should put research and development at the top of its priorities and direct serious investment towards this sector because Malta holds a lot of potential and talent that needs to be tapped. Proof of this is the success story that is eCabs – a successful start-up that has grown into an enterprise and is now looking beyond our shores,” said Dr Grech.

“Believing in local talent should not merely stop at applauding start-ups but should translate into tangible actions most notably through the creation of an ecosystem that encourages the flow of venture capital and investment support to move innovative ideas from concept to market,” said eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina.

Transforming passenger mobility through technology

Bezzina recalled how 10 years ago, eCabs embarked on a journey to radically transform passenger mobility through the application of technology.

“We started small but with big aspirations. We succeeded to make the leap from start-up to enterprise and now making our first steps to take our dream into international waters. The growth-path was far from plain-sailing, within a system that instead of nurturing growth, acted more as a barrier. If Malta wants to be the tech destination it aspires to be, we need to collectively act on empowering start-ups and tech ventures to grow and make the same leap we made,” added Mr Bezzina. 

In the press:

The Times of Malta | Malta Business Weekly

Passenger Safety Charter

eCabs implements pioneering Passenger Safety Charter

eCabs is the first mobility service provider in Malta to ever implement and commit to a comprehensive Passenger Safety Charter. Through the Charter, it is voluntarily self-regulating its standards. This will ensure the highest level of passenger safety in the provision of its services.

The Charter is titled ‘eCabs and You’. It represents a commitment by the Company to consistently take proactive measures to ensure the safety of its passengers and drivers. It also creates and promotes a responsible environment for safer Maltese roads.

“From day one, our commitment has not only been that of bringing positive disruption and meaningful change in our sector but also to help raise the bar when it comes to standards across the board. Passenger and driver safety are at the inner core of our services. This is why we decided to go the extra mile and impose on ourselves standards which go beyond those stipulated by the law” says Matthew Bezzina, CEO of eCabs.

“It is within this spirit that we have been working on the Passenger Safety Charter for the past months. So today we are proud to have reached this very important milestone in our journey. We have researched and sought international best practice. We shaped a Charter which will set the gold-standard for mobility in Malta. The ‘eCabs & You’ Passenger Safety Charter is defined by our brand values, being in touch with what matters most to passengers, drivers and all those with whom we share the road. This includes pedestrians, cyclists and people in other vehicles,” added Matthew Bezzina.

A 24/7 controlled environment with a safety-first priority

The Charter is enabled by the fact that eCabs’ remains the only operator that boasts a 24/7 controlled environment with an over-riding safety-first priority. Whilst the entire operation is fully technology-driven, eCabs retains an element of manned and logistical control. Consequently, this ensures constant support for the hundreds of drivers. It also ensures full control over drivers’ trips, tracking of locations and system access control.

‘eCabs & You’ defines the rights and responsibilities of both the passengers and the drivers. It does this by clearly defining the parameters within which a journey is to take place. The Charter covers all key areas. These include customer care, health and safety, vehicle sanitisation, driver behaviour, passenger interaction, mutual respect and emergency protocols.

Passenger Safety Charter sets parameters for safe travel guidelines

Greta Borg Bezzina, Operations Director at eCabs, said “the Charter sets out the parameters for safe travel guidelines,. It also clearly sets out how complaints are handled, and promotes the ease of booking through the multichannel booking options. Additionally it states the Company’s ‘Lost & Found’ policy. Items found in cabs following a drop-off are returned to customers through eCabs’ 24/7 contact centre.

“eCabs is not only committed to take passenger and driver safety very seriously but to also drive positive action by everyone to take safety on the road seriously. Our Passenger Safety Charter is a mutually beneficial tool being enshrined in the fabric of the Company. Passengers will understand better their rights and responsibilities, as well as those of their driver. They will also benefit from the peace of mind knowing they are trusting a Company where their safety is not a mere hashtag, but a core value. We are committed to keep on leading the space of passenger safety. We trust that our Charter will inspire all stakeholders in the sector into nurturing a true commitment towards road safety.”

In the press:

The Malta Independent | Business Today

chauffeur

eCabs acquires Elegance Chauffeur Drive

The leading mobility company eCabs has embarked on its next stage of growth through its first acquisition in the local market of Malta. It is strengthening its executive and luxury service offer with the acquisition of Elegance Chauffeur Drive.

The deal includes the integration of Elegance’s core team, as well as its extensive fleet of premium vehicles. Thus, it will bolster eCabs’ existing executive and luxury offering both in terms of numbers and service execution. This will make eCabs the largest luxury transport service provider on the island.

Elegance Chauffeur Drive was established in 2017. It focuses on the premium segment, having built itself into one of Malta’s leading chauffeur providers. It has serviced leading personalities such as royalty, celebrities and VIPs alike, with a steadfast and consistent detail-oriented approach.

According to Matthew Bezzina, CEO of eCabs:

“This move is in line with our long-term growth strategy, which includes a planned string of mobility acquisitions. We have a clear and unflinching vision of transformation. From a multi-channel ride-hailing platform, to an end-to-end technology logistics and multimodality company. Through our acquisitions programme we now aim to consolidate the local market and integrate our offering to provide the highest level of services with the most competitive rates on the island. Our ambitions for internationalisation remain firmly in our sights. The local acquisitions will enable us to go to the international market with a uniquely strong offering.”

Taking eCabs’ luxury service to new levels with one of the leading chauffeur companies in Malta

Simon Debono, eCabs’ Chief Officer Marketing & Business Development added:

“This acquisition is a clear reflection of our commitment to keep investing and strengthening our position in the market, in this case with dedicated attention to the premium segment. We are delighted to on-board the exceptional Elegance Chauffeur team within the eCabs team. Together, we shall be taking our luxury and premium service to new levels, matching the highest international standards.” 

eCabs has ramped up its capital investments in 2020 with a clear long-term strategy. This included investment in an extension of its head office in St Julian’s. As well as a significant investment in the growth of its technology team which houses its team members in Malta, Turkey and Belarus. 

“Despite the hit dealt by Covid-19, we have kept our focus on growth, expansion into new verticals and the optimisation of our operations. We are now at a stage wherein we shall take the company to the next level with confidence and a passion to enhance mobility on our islands and beyond” added Matthew Bezzina.

In the press:

The Times of Malta | Newsbook.com.mt | The Malta Independent

MOAS

eCabs supports MOAS and the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers

MOAS has found the support of eCabs in handling the logistical aspect of a Covid-19 project aiding vulnerable communities.

eCabs is delivering 2500 meters of elastic, 500 meters of fabric and 140 spools of thread to 130 volunteers around Malta.

These volunteers have recently responded to a call by humanitarian organisation MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) and the AWAS (Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers), to produce a total of 6,500 face masks for refugees and asylum seekers in Malta, to aid these vulnerable communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MOAS, which is also providing all the material needed, has found the support of eCabs in handling the logistical aspect of the project. A total of 260 trips covers the delivery of all the needed material to the volunteers who will sew the masks together, as well as the collection and redistribution of the freshly made masks back to MOAS and AWAS. The asylum seekers and refugees currently resident in the centres will receive the masks, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus and protect the beneficiaries and wider community. 

We are incredibly grateful for this service” – MOAS

Christina Lejman, Head of Fundraising and Project Management of MOAS said “I honestly cannot thank eCabs enough for this who stepped in without hesitation. We are incredibly grateful for this service as it will make a huge difference to the project. People have been so kind in donating their time and efforts, so to be able to get them the items quickly and reward their generosity is really amazing.”

“Although homemade masks are not an alternative to medical grade PPE, they have been shown to slow spread in high density residential communities. Following the call, over 130 people offered to volunteer, committing to produce at least 50 masks each over the coming weeks,” added Ms Lejman.

Matthew Bezzina, CEO of eCabs added, “Teamwork, empathy and community spirit should prevail in times like these. We all need to make an effort to continue supporting these types of causes even when normality returns. A tip of the hat to MOAS for supporting the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers, and for all the amazing volunteers who are contributing their time and effort to this worthy cause. It was only natural for us to pitch in to this project and contribute to its eventual success, in the same way that we are contributing to other community support causes”.

In the press:

The Times of Malta | Newsbook.com.mt

transport technology

Building a transport technology framework that is ‘future ready’

eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina speaks about the past, present and future of eCabs’ transport technology framework.

Over the past few years, the landscape of Malta’s cab industry has changed dramatically. With just a few players on the scene, around 10 years ago Malta’s roads were introduced to eCabs. Since then, the number of people moving to Malta for work has exploded, together with traffic and increased overall activity. Further still, Malta has also experienced a boom in ride-sharing applications competing with eCabs. In the light of this, the Malta Chamber discusses how technology is shaping the company with eCabs co-founder Matthew Bezzina. It also touches upon increased competition has shaped its strategy.

Mr Bezzina’s aim is simple. He wishes to “build a transport technology framework that is future ready.”

He discusses the impact competition has had on his business. Mr Bezzina also speaks about the lessons learnt from a decade in the industry. Finally, he talks about the lack of regard to customer safety by many operators in the space.

eCabs is close to a decade old. What would you say the biggest unexpected lesson learnt from your experience in the cab industry has been?

We entered the industry at a time when the disruptive era was still to commence. In effect, locally, it was us who triggered the disruption. In that context I would say the biggest lesson was to continuously challenge the status quo. And also to drive change, based on the needs of the market, irrespective of the internal and external forces that will naturally resist change. Taking a cue from mother nature, species that evolve to adapt to the continuously changing environment are those that have survived thousands of years of evolution and change.

The technology behind how you deliver your service has changed drastically over time. Could you give an overview of the most recently revamped digital framework implemented within eCabs?

Initially, eCabs started from two booking channels. These were mainly the phone and OTC (over the counter) through our satellite sub offices in Paceville. In 2013 we introduced Malta’s first cab booking app.

This heralded the facilitation of the booking process and reduced the margin of error. Eventually, spurred by the technological advancements of international app based platforms, we took a bold decision not to rely on third party technology any longer. We built our own tech assets to make eCabs’ technological offering and our mobile app relevant to the peculiar needs of our customer base.

With constant releases and upgrades we are ensuring that our App offers a seamless user experience, from the booking stage straight through the customer exiting the vehicle. We are now on the doorstep of major technological breakthroughs in what eCabs stands for: the entrenchment of digital in our fabric will now be reaching new heights and deliver beyond customer expectations. Our aim is simple: to build a transport technology framework that is future ready.

eCabs has made serious efforts to push the use of the app, rather than have people telephone in. In this way, drivers find it easier to find their clients. It also serves as a transparent record of what the client has ordered. What would you say has been the biggest challenge and the biggest reward from the latest application developments?

First things first. Behind the popular 21 383838, a team of dedicated and passionate people run an incredible set-up . We do not just take calls, but we provide mobility solutions to our customers. It would have been easy for us to follow the same route as many others and just implement an app and let the customer sort it out.

For example, how could we call ourselves a responsible transport provider if we ignored the fact that many people still do not feel comfortable enough with technology? Our strategy was to build a leading-edge app whilst still maintaining our call centre channel extending the benefits of our technology to those passengers who do not use it. Needless to say, our vision is to accelerate the app usage not by merely talking about it but by exceeding our customers’ expectations.

We are a live showcase that competition is healthy! It keeps all the stakeholders alert and to a certain extent helps eliminate underperforming players. As a person who has the sustainability of the industry at heart, I instigate competition, local and international. I believe that no one is owed a living. We need to put our money where our mouth is if we want to be trusted by passengers.

However, competition can never thrive if there isn’t a level playing field. Unfortunately, over the past three years, our industry evolved into a veritable jungle with most of the mushrooming operations verging on severe regulatory breaches. Such platforms are marketing and offering their services to a new breed of self-employed drivers. These drivers have no employment or contractual relationship either with the platform itself or with the operators under whose permit the vehicles used are licensed.

Passenger Safety

This is giving these app-based platforms an unfair competitive advantage over legitimate operators like ourselves. Unlike such platforms, we are legally obliged to abide by a myriad fiscal and employment rules. Also, the fact that these platforms openly claim to have no responsibility over drivers and vehicles used for such services is a matter of serious concern from a passenger safety standpoint. It aims to exonerate them from any obligation towards their passengers or responsibility for the service provided. However, it puts at risk the safety of passengers and hinders effective regulatory control.

On the other hand, customer safety has always been our priority, to an extent that we will soon be rolling out a Passenger Charter and an Emergency Assist button on our app. A call centre and a control team manning and monitoring the operation 24/7 will complement them. Thankfully the government has recently issued a very well-thought-out reform document and kickstarted a consultation period. This reform will mainly safeguard the safety of the passengers and the sustainability of the industry.

In the press:

The Malta Chamber