News & Analysis

Prominent investors back taxi app goCatch to overhaul Cabcharge

- September 16, 2013 < 1 MIN READ

Investor heavyweights James Packer, SEEK co-founder Paul Bassat, and BRW Rich Families ­members the Libermans and­Kahlbetzers, are backing goCatch against the dominance of industry giant Cabcharge.

The Australian Financial Review has just reported that the investors have committed to funding the taxi hailing app goCatch, which provides booking and payment services on smartphones – overhauling the 10 percent surcharge fee charged by Cabcharge.

Former competition tsar Graeme Samuel said new taxi technologies, including goCatch, Ingogo and Google-backed Uber, were changing the industry in a way successive governments and industry reforms have failed to do.

Packer, Bassat and Justin and David Liberman are using their new investment vehicle, Square Peg Capital, to inject money into goCatch and other start-ups, including global advertising data venture Standard Media Index and travel website Wego. They’re throwing their capital behind a string of new businesses in an attempt to stay ahead of foreign venture capitalists. 

Markus Kahlbetzer, son of John Kahlbetzer, one of the largest landowners in the world, has launched venture capital fund Tankstream Ventures, which is also supporting the taxi app.

The two funds have committed an initial $3 million and pledged to back the business. goCatch has been the most successful of the new taxi apps, signing up 16,000 of the country’s 70,000 drivers.

Cabcharge, whose electronic ­payment system is in 97 percent of taxis, has come under fire over its 10 per cent surcharge fee for credit card payments.

In May, the Victorian government accepted a recommendation from Allan Fels’s taxi industry inquiry to cut the surcharge from 10 per cent to 5 per cent, causing the company’s share price to crash from more than $5 to less than $4. Ingogo charges 8 percent and goCatch 7.5 percent for their credit card payments.

Read the full story at The Australian Financial Review.