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Uber competitor Ola to launch in London in coming weeks

Ola has begun registering licenced drivers in London as it prepares for launch in the coming weeks having been granted a 15-month licence from TfL earlier this year

Uber Technologies Inc - Uber’s competitor Ola to launch in London
The Ola app allows users to choose between private hire vehicles and metered taxis

Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE:UBER), which is looking to appeal a decision denying it a new licence to operate in London, could face more competition in the UK capital from an Indian competitor.

Ride-sharing firm Ola, which has 7mln users in various UK locations, announced late on Tuesday it has begun registering licenced drivers in the capital as it prepares for launch in the coming weeks having been granted a 15-month licence from Transport for London (TfL) earlier this year.

READ: Uber will not receive new London operating licence, says TfL

Ola users can choose whether to book private hire vehicles or local taxis – setting a fixed fare in the former or paying what appears on the meter in the latter.

The Indian company - which like Uber is backed by Japanese tech investment giant Softbank - said a series of safety features coming with its app, such as an emergency button to immediately alert the team during a ride, as well as driver facial recognition technology.

“We have built a robust mobility platform for London which is fully compliant with TfL’s high standards,” Simon Smith, Head of International at Ola said in a statement.

“We have had constructive conversations with the authorities, drivers, and local communities in London over the past months, and look forward to contributing towards solving mobility issues in innovative and meaningful ways,” he added.

The firm operates in more than 250 cities across India, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Ola's push into the UK capital comes as rival Uber prepares to appeal against TfL's decision to strip the firm of its London licence.

On Monday, the regulator said the Uber was not "fit and proper" as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations.

Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expired this week.

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