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26 August 2021

Chinese Ride Hailing Giant Banned from UK Expansion

Uber has been the UK’s resident ride-hailing giant since it launched here almost a decade ago but, now, that monopoly is coming under increasing threat from global rivals.

Following concerns over data privacy, Chinese ride-hailing firm DiDi paused plans to launch in the UK and continental Europe. Earlier this month, MPs including former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called for the company to be banned from operating in the UK over fears that spyware could be installed on the phones of those who use its app and taxis.

Founded in 2012 by Will Cheng, DiDi has become one of China’s largest ride-hailing services with more than 377 million active users and 13 million drivers across the country.

Chinese companies including DiDi have come under recent scrutiny from a host of nations, despite other countries openly accepting them. Earlier this year, DiDi came under pressure from China itself as the country cracks down on data privacy. The country’s internet regulator ordered online stores to stop offering its app, saying it illegally collected users’ personal data.

The purpose of the review was to “safeguard national data security, maintain national security and protect public interest,” the Chinese Cyberspace Administration said in a short statement.

Meanwhile, telecoms firm Huawei has been banned from the UK’s 5G infrastructure and faces scrutiny over its security standards from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. The technology giant is also facing tough restrictions in the US.

DiDi saw the UK as the next country to expand into, having already grown its international business by launching in South Africa, Ecuador and Kazakhstan.

Although it didn’t directly address the matter, the firm said: “We continue to explore new markets, liaising with relevant stakeholders in each and being thoughtful about when to introduce out services.”

The announcement comes just days after the firm raised US$4.4bn in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, however, its shares fell considerably off the back of its setback in the UK.

In a further hit to Chinese technology companies, the country’s government is introducing broader measures to protect data privacy. Last week, the country’s highest legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, passed a sweeping new privacy law which aims to strictly control data collection by technology firms. The Personal Information Protection Law will come into effect from 1st November 2021.

Please note that investments and income arising from them can fall as well as rise in value. This communication is for information only and does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell the shares of the investments mentioned.
 
Chinese Ride Hailing Giant Banned from UK Expansion
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