By Jung Joo-ri and Lee Jihae
Seoul | July 18, 2019
A regulatory sandbox is a mechanism for exempting or suspending regulations to provide goods and services formerly unavailable due to such rules. To foster new industries and technology, the sandbox took effect from January 17 this year for a two-year period. This article explores a few of the resulting changes since this policy was implemented six months ago.
Gangnam Station and vicinity and the main sections of the downtown Seoul road Jongno have one thing in common: high difficulty of grabbing a taxi late at night. Many people in either area are seen gathering by the roadside to hail taxis around midnight.
A game-changing app has emerged to resolve this situation. Banban (Half-Half) Taxi offers rides between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. to passengers whose routes overlap by at least 70% and who want to ride together to find a taxi faster and split the bill. The cabbie receives payments from both passengers, so the app benefits everyone.
Current law prohibits a taxi from allowing multiple passengers to share a ride in the same cab. Yet as part of its regulatory sandbox, the Ministry of Science and ICT on July 11 permitted the startup platform Kornatus to launch the app. The service will start this month in the Seoul districts of Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, Jongno-gu, Jung-gu, Mapo-gu, Yongsan-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Guro-gu, Seongdong-gu, Gwangjin-gu, Dongjak-gu and Gwanak-gu.
A "mutual kitchen" shared by two or more chefs has also been launched after gaining regulatory approval. While one venue is limited to one business licensee operating in it under current law, the sandbox allows several business licensees to share a space -- the mutual kitchen -- and offer a variety of food and services.
Multiple businesses can now also sell food at the same venue. Seoul Hope Night Cafe, which opened on June 20, runs at the Seoul Underground Rendezvous Service Area until 8 p.m. Afterwards, another business sells snacks and drinks until midnight.
The regulatory sandbox has also led to the emergence of virtual reality (VR) theme parks, which offer simulations that feel extremely real. Kong VR on July 5 opened two branches, one near Gangnam Station in Seoul and the other by Haeundae Beach in Busan. The operation of VR motion simulation used to be difficult due to regulations on electricity and electromagnetic waves but the lifting of the latter has jumpstarted this up-and-coming industry.
A Kong VR source said, "We can now spend less time and money on certifications for VR facilities and content."
Since sandbox regulations took effect six months ago, 81 business establishments have received regulatory approval. A host of industries such as financial technology (fintech), transportation and health care have benefited from the sandbox.
The ministry and other government offices said they will expedite relevant patent processes by formulating standards for certification and technology as well as set up an institutional strategy to more effectively manage businesses.
By Min Yea-Ji and Kim Hwaya
Waygo Blue, an app-based taxi hailing service, started pilot operations on March 20 in Seoul.
Launched by platform technology company KaKao Mobility and taxi franchise Tago Solutions, Waygo Blue searches for a taxi within five seconds of a passenger's request through the KaKao T app. The cab driver is not shown the destination to prevent him or her from refusing passengers.
Waygo Blue taxis also feature air purifiers, smartphone chargers and the option for a passenger to listen to his or her music playlist.
Also slated for launch is the reservation-only service Waygo Lady, which features female cabbies who can pick up female passengers only as well as boys under age 8.
Waygo Lady and Waygo Blue will officially launch service next month with 100 taxis in Seoul and Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do Province. The number will eventually be expanded to 3,000.
Other services such as pet transportation, support for special needs users, and small errands and business operations will debut in the second half of the year.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said, "The government will give full support to dramatically improve taxi service connected to Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and take bold steps through deregulation."