Fri | Jun 2, 2023

Michael Treasure | Zypps, a competitor to the Uber model, is already operational in Jamaica

Published:Monday | April 12, 2021 | 1:45 PM

First, we would like to correct the false information recently published in the Jamaica Gleaner that quoted the President of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Mr. Egeton Newman saying Zypps had pulled the plug on its operations in Jamaica.

This is patently not true. Zypps is very much operational in Jamaica.

Second, recently, there have been news on different Jamaica media outlets about Uber’s pending entry into the Jamaican market.

Third, also recently, have been news on the Jamaican Government ENDs programme, which is focused on bringing vendors, especially SMBs, online for ecommerce activities to initially serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic curfew periods.

These three events are not unrelated, and we wish to speak more broadly here on all three events. The good news about Uber’s pending entry into the Jamaican market is itself a confirmation of what the owners of Zypps had seen when they first entered the Jamaican market with their discovery operations in 2019.

This confirmation is that there is a need to have a more modern day technology-based platform for managing and operating transportation in Jamaica. However, the good news about Uber’s pending entry into the Jamaican market just about stops there.

The Kingston metro area, during normal times (non-pandemic era), presents significant traffic problems especially during rush (peak) hours. Reports after reports, in cities around the world where Uber and other such services that employ the Uber transport technology company (TNC) model, have cited increase vehicle miles travel (VMT) and consequent increase traffic and congestion problems because of these Uber “copied” TNCs operations.

This is largely due to the fact that the Uber TNC model requires more vehicles than passengers to be present, in any given area, at any given time, to serve passengers as quickly as possible.

This vehicle oversupply problem creates perhaps another at least equally big problem. Owners (private individuals) who provide these vehicles on the Uber TNC model incur significant cost (direct and indirect) in miles and time driving around empty waiting for a passenger that the Uber TNC model is expected to provide.

This waited times and unloaded (no passenger in the car) miles reality is often as much as 50 per cent of the total miles driven and time spent on the roads.

Uber does not bear any of this cost. It is the private vehicle owners that bear these costs. Uber is an international publicly traded company, of such, its primary fiscal responsibility is to its shareholders and the bottom line (profit) becomes the primary driver for all things Uber does.

Around the world where Uber operates, in countries and cities, Uber by and large, treats its drivers (private vehicle owners) as independent drivers and pays below minimum wage to these independent drivers.

Therefore, while Jamaica should welcome modern technology based TNC platform models, it should be careful which ones it embraces.

The TNC platform models Jamaica should rally around are those that take into consideration the local nuances of the transport sector and ones that have the ability to combine Public, Private, Contract Carriage, Hackney Carriage, Route Taxis and Commercial Carrier (courier) on to one integrated technology base, while simultaneously addressing VMT and profitability for the vehicle owners and service providers.

On the Government backed ENDs programme, there are more unknowns than there are knowns to the general public about this Jamaican Government ENDs programme and this may be in part because the ENDs programme is in pilot roll-out phase.

The generic idea to help vendors reach customers and doing so through online marketplaces is good. However, the Government has to be careful it does not provide enabling monopolistic advantages to a select few technology enablers and or marketplace providers. The Government’s primary job is to create the enabling policies and limit the regulatory barriers to entry so that as many technology and marketplace providers can be encouraged to serve the public.

The public (market) should be left to decide the winners and losers, not the Government and or select few, with special interest towards gaining protected and unfair monopolistic advantages.

Zypps has been in the Jamaica market since late 2019 and while the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak did have an initial impact on its operations just as it had begun rolling out its services in Jamaica, that impact has since subsided.

Zypps is currently working with taxi operators across Jamaica and is expanding to onboard more operators across all 14 parishes. The Zypps TNC model is fundamentally different from the Uber model and the technology was developed by Jamaica’s own Dr. Michael Treasure, alumni of Wolmer’s Boys School and the University of the West Indies.

The technology underpinning the Zypps model is currently patent pending in more than 30 countries around the world and has been academically proven to be up to 50 per cent more efficient in vehicle utilisation and deployment over the Uber model.

The owners of Zypps also operates an eCommerce platform, ZyppsKart, in Jamaica. ZyppsKart is being built more as the 'Amazon' of Jamaica and is in partnership with several vendors (SMBs), including vendors at Coronation Market, Brooklyn Supermarket, and many others.

The logistic for providing same day delivery for all products, including groceries, purchased on ZyppsKart is provided by Zypps. Zypps and ZyppsKart is operated in Jamaica by Zyva Technology Solutions Jamaica Ltd. For more information about this article, please contact