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App launched to help expats hail taxis in Hong Kong

An app for smartphones is being launched this month, which will help expatriates who don't speak Cantonese to hail a cab in Hong Kong.

The Taxiwise app translates the name of the destination into Cantonese and matches the potential customer with cabs that are prepared to take the fare.

It came about after two IT professionals were rejected by nine separate cab drivers after a night out in Lan Kwai Fong last year, reports the South China Morning Post.

Jean-Marc Ly and Truong Lam then decided to team up with local entrepreneur Lawrence Tse to turn their idea into reality.

Mr Ly told the news provider: "We ended up walking in the rain for 45 minutes because we couldn't get a taxi."

His collaborator added: "Most of the time we got rejected because of the language, but some were also asking for a premium price. And the further we walked, the harder it rained."

The pair were originally only supposed to be in Hong Kong for three months while they attended an intensive course on building mobile products, but the taxi app concept meant they stayed longer.

After 18 months of app-building, testing and market research, Taxiwise will be available for use later in December.

Customers will be able to book cabs in real time or in advance and the developers are expecting to have 1,000 drivers working with the service within six months of the launch.

Taxi-booking apps are not new in Hong Kong, which already has a large number offering services to those who can speak Cantonese.

Mr Ly explained why this one is different:  "We are targeting expats, business travellers, people like us who don't speak Chinese.

"We're also giving local drivers access to a new market."

Expats who wish to give the app a go will be granted a one-month free trial, before a HK$10 (79p) fee per booking kicks in.

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