China’s tech giants are teaming up with a UK-based startup to offer users easy taxi services around the world

ILLUSTRATION: KALIZ LEE

It can be frustrating to get around a destination where your favourite ride-hailing service doesn’t exist. For the past few years, London-based B2B startup Splyt has been working to make life easier by solving this “mobility roaming” problem.

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Partnering with mobility businesses around the world, Splyt has created a single pool where ride-hailing inventory can be bought and sold. In June, the company announced its biggest partnership yet – a collaboration with Alipay, Alibaba’s payment platform. Through a “mini programme” within its app, Alipay will offer its hundreds of millions of users a global “mobility marketplace”. Without downloading any new apps, Chinese travellers can book rides with providers when travelling in over 1,000 cities around the world, make payments and use an in-app chat function to communicate with drivers who don’t speak the rider’s language.

The partnership with Alipay isn’t Splyt’s first foray into the Chinese market. In September, the company started working with Ctrip – China’s largest travel agency – to provide transport solutions for the latter’s app users.

splyt.com

Alibaba by the numbers

101, 958

Number of full-time employees, the majority of whom are based in China

1 billion

Number of people globally who use its mobile payment service, Alipay

US$150 billion

Valuation of its financial arm, Ant Financial, the world’s most valuable fintech company