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Didi steps up financial drive as it courts car leasing companies

Didi Chuxing is making a further push into the financial arena as it looks to diversify its business amid huge losses. We reported in January that the company, which controls a dominant slice of China’s ride-hailing market, released financial and insurance products targeting riders and drivers. Its service offering just broadened after the startup launched on Thursday an online financial system aimed at car leasing and fleet management companies.
The move to carve out a product exclusively for third-party partners is telling of Didi’s conviction to secure more drivers and cars amid changing industry currents. In its purest form, a ride-hailing company serves as a marketplace connecting individual drivers and passengers. As Beijing continues to rein in the sector over safety concerns and, some argue, threats that ride-hailing poses to state-owned taxi operators, the industry little by little sheds its appearance as a sharing-economy business.
The most pivotal change comes in the form of government-issued licenses required for both drivers and the cars they operate. To obtain those permits, drivers must go through background checks and exams. The cars, on the other hand, must be fully insured, registered as commercial vehicles and dumped after eight years as taxis do.
These rules essentially turn ride-hailing into a souped-up, digitally powered manifestation of the taxi industry. To counter the sharp decline in drivers and cars due to new regulatory hurdles, players like Didi either have to invest in driver and fleet management, or outsource the work to third-party companies.

The end of China’s ridesharing gig
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