Delve into the ins and out of Spains first unicorn company! Cabify is a Spanish ride-hailing company that connects individuals and businesses with the means of transportation that best suit their needs.
The company has had an exciting year after having launched Spain’s first hydrogen-powered ride-hailing fleet and becoming the first carbon-neutral mobility application in Europe and Latin America.
Over the last five years, Cabify has invested more than $38 million in research and development to introduce various measures in its platform to achieve more environmentally and operationally efficient mobility.
Most recently, Cabify has entered a partnership with Incode Technologies to expand its passenger identity validation system to include selfie verification.
In a nut shell, Cabify is transforming the way we move. Carlos Herrera, Cabify’s Chief Technology Officer, talked to MOVE about Cabify’s recent partnerships and how they plan to reach future sustainability goals.
Q: For those who don’t know, tell us about Cabify and what you do.
A: Of course! My name is Carlos Herrera, and I have been Cabify’s Chief Technology Officer for the last two and a half years. Before that, I also worked as VP of Data & Research and Head of Data Science & Research. I was actually the first data scientist ever hired at Cabify. In total, I have worked at this company for the last six years. While I started on my own, I am now leading a team of 250+ highly skilled and enthusiastic professionals in engineering, data, product, and design. My main challenge is to understand, identify and coordinate the execution of the opportunities that arise from the changes technology can fuel to improve how we move around our cities.
Cabify is Spain’s first-ever Unicorn company. We are a multi-mobility platform born to offer a mobility alternative to the excess of private cars that invade the city. We provide various means of transport to reduce urban travel in private cars, taking advantage of technology to make cities better places to live.
Cabify has been transforming how people move around the city for more than 11 years. After being born in Spain, in Madrid, the company spread within a few months. We are currently present in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, and we have more than 42 million registered users and 1.2 million collaborating drivers and taxi drivers.
On our platform as of today, we offer ride-hailing private hired vehicles and taxis, electric micro-mobility, and logistic services.
Q: You have just announced a partnership with Incode Technologies to expand your passenger identity validation system to include selfie verification. Tell us about this and how this will impact biometrics and digital identity.
A: Technology is a crucial enabler for safer mobility, and Cabify is constantly working to improve its capabilities. We were the first in the market to deliver real-time trip sharing, which might not make a difference if we look at it from a European perspective, but it definitely resonated with our users in Latam. Outside the ride-hailing industry, we tend to think more about rider safety because we ourselves usually sit there. However, we must never forget that ride-hailing drivers are more exposed. We have to work so that rides are always safe for both the driver and the rider, and never forget that listening and caring for those behind the wheel is vital for us at Cabify.
That’s why we’re incorporating technology to reduce the risk of insecurity in cities in Latin America. We just announced our collaboration with Incode Technologies to integrate new developments in our passenger identity validation system. This will see the most prominent technology in biometrics and digital identity integrated into Cabify so passengers can validate their identity through a selfie, which verifies the correspondence between the photo and the official documentation. Already active in several cities in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru, this new solution reinforces the security features deployed and, according to a survey conducted to those drivers that have already tested it, passenger identity verification is the most valued security tool.
The well-being of our collaborative drivers and taxi drivers and the prevention of safety incidents are priorities for us. Our commitment is firm when it comes to relying on technology to detect suspicious behavior of users and avoid any incidents that violate the driver’s safety. Our AI detects when it is necessary to use the selfie verification feature according to our own data.
Q: Cabify is the first carbon-neutral mobility application in Europe and Latin America. What technological developments allowed this goal to become a reality? What must other multi-mobility platforms change in order to follow in Cabify’s footsteps?
A: Cabify has always led the industry in terms of sustainability, which can be seen in several of the milestones we have achieved. In 2018, we became the first company in our sector worldwide to be 100% carbon neutral in Europe and Latin America, as we offset all the CO2 emitted by our activity. Since then we have offset more than 375.000 tonnes of CO2.
Technology is one of our greatest allies in sustainability. During the past five years, we have invested close to 40M€ in R+D to develop new features aimed at making cities better places to live in terms of security, sustainability, and mobility in general.
With regard to sustainability, we don’t just work with data analysis to make journeys more efficient. Thanks to innovation, we are also able to design a more cost-effective route map for our collaborating drivers. This way, Cabify saves more than 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per year with its technological developments. One of these technological developments is “hot hire”, which makes it possible to travel as few kilometers as possible without passengers. These innovations are implemented with the help of data analysis and artificial intelligence.
However, sustainability is not only about direct emissions from vehicles. We must continue to improve the efficiency of the resources at our disposal. It makes little sense for a car to be parked 95% of the time. Less parking space means higher urban density, which also means shorter rides for citizens. It is precisely in very dense cities where our technology for shared mobility brings the most value.
Q: What can we expect from Cabify in the next 12-18 months regarding sustainability in mobility?
A: At Cabify, we have firmly committed to combating climate change, and one of the most important milestones is our aim to decarbonize the fleet in Spain and in Latin America. In this regard, we have set a goal: that 100% of trips on our platform will be in decarbonized or electric vehicles by 2025 in Spain and 2030 in Latin America. For that, we have several initiatives going on at the moment in order to meet this goal.
For example, we have signed an agreement with Mobilize, the Renault Group brand dedicated to new mobility, that will be a milestone for the ride-hailing sector in Spain. Cabify will operate the first forty Mobilize Limos in the world, the first-ever 100% electric vehicles designed exclusively for ride-hailing.
We have also joined forces with Toyota and Enagas to present the first fleet of VTC vehicles that use hydrogen as a source of energy in Spain and have signed an agreement with Fenie Energia in Spain to promote the installation and implementation of recharging points throughout Spain to accelerate the electrification of vehicles of taxi drivers and self-employed drivers that use Cabify.
These are only a few examples of what we are working on at the moment, and a snippet of how our future endeavors will look like.
Q: What is Cabify’s vision for the future of mobility?
A: If I had to narrow it down to just two words, those would be sustainability and technology. That is what the future in the mobility sector looks like. Transportation has to be sustainable and technology will be at the center of it all to enable that.
The mobility of the future will be sustainable, and if it won’t, there will be no mobility and no future. Just look at where all mobility companies are heading, how user sustainability awareness is growing, and where European, national and local regulations are heading. The priority must be to reduce the use of private cars within cities and, thereby, improve air quality and the health of the people who live there. Most nations have set a deadline for the decarbonization of transport to become a reality, so any policy or business strategy that does not go towards achieving this goal will not be successful.
Europe is leading the world regarding decarbonization, and we proudly assume our role as a European mobility company with a global impact that is contributing to that goal.
Q: You just announced your ten-year anniversary in Latam. What does the future of this region look like as Cabify?
A: Cabify arrived in Latin America in 2012 just a few months after starting operations in Madrid and so, we are just celebrating our 10-year anniversary. We were the first platform in our industry to operate in markets such as Peru, Mexico, or Chile, later expanding to Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay.
It has been ten years of development, creating quality jobs, investing in the countries we operate, and growing together. And we are not halting after these 10 years. There is still a lot more to come. Over the next two years, Cabify plans to invest more than 300M dollars in the LATAM region to develop different strategic projects that will contribute to further improving mobility in cities. These include strengthening penetration in more non-capital cities in the countries where we operate, further developing strategic points with a significantly higher demand for mobility (such as airports, stations, and malls), and continuing to work on the decarbonization of the fleet.
Q: You just launched the first edition of Women Tech Dating. Can you tell us more about this initiative?
A: We have just launched the first edition of #WomenTechDating, an open day in which women from around the world will be able to connect with female employees of Cabify’s tech team to explore the possibilities offered by the technology sector. This initiative stems from the commitment to promote equal opportunities in the technology sector, offering other women the chance to learn about the different options that a company in the industry can provide them for their career path.
What I love the most about the initiative is that it came from the bottom up. It was our female technologists who came to me and other leaders and said “I feel I have an amazing opportunity working in tech, and I know many women do not even consider joining this industry because of lack of awareness, which is a gap we can help close”. And so they did.
#WomenTechDating will take place through private online meetings with current Cabify employees who are part of the different technology teams such as engineering, product, or data. The project has been carried out in collaboration with colleagues from the tech team in the “Women in Technology” working group that is part of Cabify’s Diversity Committee. This group actually gets together to exchange inspiration and bridge the gender gap in the technological field.
This first edition is currently taking place and we couldn’t be happier with the turnout we have had and the interest we have seen internally and externally.
Q: You have also announced a new business division focused on Logistics. Can you tell us how exactly does that connect to your regular business?
A: We opened a new chapter in our diversification of mobility solutions, this time aimed at the storage and transfer of objects, with the launch of the new Cabify Logistics brand. With this new line of business, we seek to continue to grow and consolidate its position as an ally of mobility in cities, offering a safe, efficient, and sustainable quality service, while taking advantage of the potential of technology.
Cabify’s purpose is to reduce private cars in cities. From Cabify’s perspective, every huge parking lot next to a commercial facility is a lost opportunity to have a much nicer urban space.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cabify made an ambitious commitment to the delivery service to make it easier for individuals and companies to distribute parcels in cities. Over time, the company began to gain relevance with its B2B2C service and, today, is positioned in the logistics market as a full-service technology provider, an ally of companies with online sales that seek to deliver their products in the best conditions and with multiple options.
Proof of this is the accelerated evolution of this line of the company: we made more than 500,000 deliveries in less than 8 months after launching the service in 2020, which was five times faster than the time it took to make its first 500,000 ride-hailing trips. Today, we already have a portfolio of 5,000 customers, including large companies.
In the coming months, Cabify Logistics will continue to strengthen the technology supporting the operation to remain a leader in routing, real-time tracking, and warehouse management. In addition, we are working to further increase the electric and zero-emission fleet by including electric bicycles and scooters. In the case of Spain, 100% of Cabify Logistics’ owned fleet are electric vans dedicated exclusively to parcel service.