Ridesharing provider Uber Technologies Inc. on Wednesday proposed a registration system for drivers in South Korea, Reuters reported. The new plan seeks to address regulatory concerns about the safety and reliability of its service, which have resulted in local authorities vowing to ban the service.
David Plouffe, senior vice president, said the company is “eager and actively” looking for solutions, at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported. Outside the conference, taxi drivers reportedly protested the service, which has drawn controversy around the world.
“I wish I could go in to the hotel and give that Uber executive a piece of my mind,” Kim Chul Soo, a taxi driver, told Bloomberg, holding a yellow placard that read, “Uber Leave Korea.”
The proposed system would allow registered drivers to operate commercially. The drivers would also be subject to training as well as background checks.
Uber has had to adapt its business model in several countries where it has run afoul of local laws. In the United States and elsewhere, it takes a more hands-off approach, using its platform as a way to connect drivers to riders with minimal interference. However, this approach has resulted in significant controversy.
The Seoul city government has said it will ban the service, claiming unlicensed taxis pose a threat to its customers, ZDNet reported. The city even reportedly offered a reward of 1 million won (about $920) to anyone who reports illegal activities by the company. Uber’s users have reportedly sent spam mails to the Seoul government in protest.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was indicted in December for violating South Korean transportation laws, which only allow licensed operators to act as taxis. If found guilty, he could face up to two years in prison, though he has not yet been detained, ITNews reported.
The service has also faced backlash in several other locations, including in Spain and India. Most recently, the service was suspended in New Delhi, after a female passenger accused her Uber driver of raping her.
In January, Uber reportedly said it has partnered with a local cab company for its services in the South Korean city of Incheon. It has also had to compromise by allowing customers to use the app to find licensed taxis in other cities, which cuts into its profits.
Uber’s service is also facing local competition, as South Korean messaging app KakaoTalk announced, in January, its plans to roll out a competitor service, called Kakao Taxi, TechCrunch reported. The service is expected to be available to riders by the end of March.