Traffic > Transit

New ride-sharing app launches, gets banned immediately

Meet Owto. Now say goodbye to Owto

Is it just us or does the name sound a little tacky? IMAGE FROM OWTO

In what is becoming a strangely regular occurrence by now, yet another new ride-sharing app has launched in the Philippine market only to be banned by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board almost immediately. The latest contender for the “Philippine TNC Also-Ran” award is called Owto, which claims to be a 100% Filipino-owned company that places special emphasis on rider security while also promising reasonable value-for-money fares for its riders and equitable take-home pays for driver-partners.

It almost feels like we're in the motoring version of 'Twilight Zone'. MEME BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Needless to say, the launch of this latest transport provider didn’t go down too well with the people at the LTFRB, who promptly issued a cease-and-desist order against Owto. LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada was recorded as telling reporters during a press conference yesterday that before any transport network company offers anything to the general public, it must first present its business design to the LTFRB as the regulatory body in charge. She also mentioned that the accreditation for TNC status is still open, but that the processing of applications for TNVS (transport network vehicle service) providers is still suspended.

Only time will tell if Owto is a serious TNVS player, a flash in the pan or just a troll

Owto joins Grab, Uber, Arcade City, Wunder and Angkas in the race to provide ride-sharing and transport services to an increasingly demanding public. And while the company does say on its Facebook page that it is “committed to being compliant with all the rules and regulations set forth by the government in pursuit of the greater good of the public,” it seems nobody from the organization has actually spoken to the regulator before firing out its controversial press release. They do say first impressions are important, and Owto has put itself straight onto the LTFRB naughty list with its Uber-like approach.

Little is known about the company itself, and at the time of this writing, there doesn’t seem to be a working Android or iOS app to try. Its official website isn’t even finished yet (who puts up a live website with “lorem ipsum” filler text?). Only time will tell if Owto is a serious player, a flash in the pan or just a troll.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.