On Tuesday, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing launched their service in the Central American nation of Costa Rica. The launch event featured a promo code “PURAVIDA”, the country’s slogan meaning “pure life”, which will grant users 50% off. In addition there will be a referral program providing users with a 50% discount if they recommend the service to a friend.
Didi will deploy 5,000 drivers in Costa Rica to begin with, mainly concentrated in metropolitan areas including San José, Cartago, Alajuela, and Heredia. The company also reiterated the strict driver registration requirements to ensure users’ safety when using the application. Didi’s Costa Rica team will consist of 35 employees based in Santa Ana, led by Pablo Mondragón who was previously manager of Didi’s Mexican operations.
Meanwhile, Didi’s main competitor globally, Uber, has been in operation in Costa Rica since 2015. However, private taxi services are not entirely legal in Costa Rica. In fact, The Economic Affairs Committee of the Legislative Assembly in Costa Rica recently introduced a new bill that seeks to regulate ride-sharing platforms. The proposal “seeks to balance conditions between transport service providers and offer benefits for taxi drivers,” according to Robert Thompson, president of the committee.
Recently, in September, President Carlos Alvarado issued a statement saying his administration “believes there should be a balanced regulation and that it should happen soon.” He continued, “We believe that there should be a regularization that is prompt, that creates balance in the market, that can generate the conditions of compensation. We all agree that we want a bill that improves conditions for the benefit of families.”
These remarks come following protests against Uber’s unregulated operations that have undercut local taxi businesses. However, these obstacles have not slowed Didi’s expansion into the area, as the competition in Latin America intensifies.