Picap: the Colombian motorcycle Uber is about to arrive in Mexico, although there is still no law for the service

With a discreet profile, Picap has been conducting a pilot test in Mexico City since October 2018. The application is similar to that of Uber, Cabify and DiDi: it contacts drivers with passengers, with the primary difference that instead of four wheels, this time we talk about motorcycles.

Picap: the Colombian motorcycle Uber
Picap: the Colombian motorcycle Uber

Nearly 2,000 people have registered as partners with Picap since it began operations in Mexico City in October 2018, however, according to Camilo Rodríguez, co-founder of the platform originally from Colombia (where it has been operating for five years). around 200 remain active regularly, which in December gave nearly 6,000 trips made in the capital of the country.

Picap however has not yet registered as a company in Mexico; the "pilot test", as the co-founder calls it, has been done without the company collecting economic benefits.

The segment of motorcycles for private passenger transport has been operating for some time outside the country. There is Movo, for example, a company that is recently establishing an alliance with Cabify and that in Spain has popularized its service of shared motorcycles for private transport. The same Picap already operates in Medellin, Colombia and Cali with a somewhat different model because the bike is always driven by the driver, and now he has set his eyes on Mexico, due to the evident mobility problems that the capital has.

The promise of sales is clear: reaching destinations faster than by car, and, in most cases, at a cheaper price. Among the reasons behind the price it is clear that a motorcycle is cheaper and uses less gasoline than a car, but there is also Picap's business model.

"The countries with the most traffic are the first options, and we know that Mexico City has the same problem as Medellin in Colombia (...) it has a good lack capacity in motorcycles that we can access, the proportion is not so great as in Colombia, but here it is in second place".

Picap does not charge drivers a commission for each trip that was made through the application. Instead, it has a subscription model for drivers, where those who are registered, can see in advance about those who are not, if a user is requesting a trip. Thus, for 30 seconds, the passenger's request can only be seen by the subscribers, and in case no one accepts it, in the second 31 it appears for the rest of the drivers.

The subscription model in Colombia has a monthly cost of approximately 200 Mexican pesos. In Colombia a driver earns 700 to 800 dollars a month free.

In Mexico, the subscription model has not started, since Picap is not registered as a company. His intention, says Camilo Rodríguez, is to do it for the month of February, but the problem is that the regulatory framework may not be ready by then.

It is well known that in Mexico a long way has gone in the regulation of private transport services with computer applications. The matter has been in his favor with the passing of the years, not without having to make some concessions. In Mexico City the regulation of the Mobility Law was published last September, where vehicle registration measures became more rigorous.

The issue is that the regulation would not apply, at least not as it is drafted today, for the Picap service. In addition to the corresponding registration before the city government, the vehicular units must have four doors and air conditioning, so that the regulatory framework does not correspond.

The regulation is clear when pointing out that the vehicles that can be registered must have an invoice value of at least 200,000 pesos.

Camilo Rodríguez says that the team has been evaluating the laws in Mexico City for a while, and has even revised the temporary guidelines that have been issued for other private mobility services, such as shared bicycles and scooters without anchoring station.

However, the advance in the legal issue is very early. Picap has not even established contact with the Mobility Secretariat to know if it is necessary to prepare a whole new normative framework, or to adjust an existing one.

"I would think that the regulatory framework is very advanced, everything is a topic of analysis that gives mobility to our application, it may indicate that we enter under that framework, or indicate that we need to enter with different rules, more similar to those of Uber that the Mobike (...) being already here the idea is to make approaches".

If there is no law or regulation that covers the service, how is it that you have been operating in Mexico City? Camilo responds:

"At this time, as the drivers do not receive a consignment from us, we do not charge anything, let's say that at this moment we are in a limbo where nothing is happening, we are simply connecting passengers and drivers, when the time comes we will review how do so that the figure of "employer" is not exercised, so that drivers work when they want, under the conditions they want ".

Picap would mainly come with the service of motorcycles, but it also plans to deploy cars, although the latter is thought more as a contingency in the face of adverse weather conditions or in cases where there is more than one passenger, and will not be the main focus of the company.

The same legal limbo in which they are now, means that Picap, according to Camilo, is not in a position to review the judicial history of the driving partners, or offer insurance against an accident. Lacking a registry in Mexico, passengers boarding Picap motorcycles for the time being, do so at their own and the driver's responsibility. In fact, Picap has among its operating regulations, that transport by motorcycle can only be taken by people over 18 years of age.

"All the legal documents will be checked, there will be no infractions or judicial records (...) at this time [the documents are not reviewed] because we do not have a company established in Mexico."

Due to the same conditions, Picap trips can only be cashed in cash by the driver, which guarantees that the company is not generating income on current trips.

All this will change once Picap is finished settling. If all goes well, all payment modalities will arrive at the service before the end of the first semester of 2019, there will be filters to choose the partners, and the service will even be deployed to Guadalajara, almost simultaneously when it occurs in Mexico City.