Island Ride: Saipan’s answer to Uber and Grab

Posted on Aug 08 2019

Digital Saipan CEO/owner Kong Xi brings his software knowledge and experience to Saipan by launching Island Ride. (Photos by Bea Cabrera)

A company called Digital Saipan is set to launch Island Ride next month which is being dubbed as Saipan’s version of Uber and Grab. Similar to those known ride-sharing services, Island Ride offers transport of people, goods, and services.

Digital Saipan is a software company and the knowledge and experience behind it is CEO/owner Kong Xi, who is from China and boasts 15 years of software development experience under his belt and also runs a software company in Beijing.

“In China, an ordinary day would be where you can step out of your house with just your phone because any transaction can be done through your smart phone whether you are buying groceries, paying bills, and getting a ride. I want to bring that technology and convenience to Saipan,” he said.

Digital Saipan marketing manager Robert Exley said that there is a need for public and mass transportation on island that they want to help fill and that is why they came up with Island Ride.

“Saipan is a little island with a big need as there’s a lack of mass transit. We have the bus but it is only available in limited hours and areas, we have taxis but also limited and drivers are not vetted and of course, the sad existence of many illegal taxis,” he said.

“Island Ride is a ride-share application that is 50%-60% cheaper than taxis and we would like to make it safe, accessible. and economical for everyone,” said Exley.

“The concept of our business is like that of Lift, Uber, and Grab all over the world. Our pool of drivers will be private citizens and their cars but eventually we would like to add our own fleet depending on the need of the market,” he added.

With the Island Ride app, passengers can type their pick-up and drop-off locations. The estimated fare and time of arrival will appear, the nearest driver will appear with his information, and will respond and take the passenger to preferred destination. During the whole process, both driver and passenger are tracked by Digital Saipan through geolocation sharing that will let them know where both driver and passenger are at all times ensuring security.

At the end of the day, Digital Saipan aims the Island Ride experience both rewarding for both driver and passenger.

Looking for drivers

Island Ride is currently looking to build their fleet of drivers and cars. Exley said this is also economically beneficial to the community because it creates jobs.

“If you have a car that is not over five years old and you have time, then you can be one of our drivers. You can have a full-time job and do this on your free time or it is up to you whether you want to go full-time. Either way we have a vetting process that they need to fulfill.”

Interested drivers are required to submit a police background check. If one is new on island and your police background dates less than a year they require three references—valid license, proof of insurance, and a certificate of car inspection from accredited centers.

The Island Ride App will help passenger access all of its offered services whether transporting people, goods, and service.

They are open to take in sedans, pick-ups, trucks, and SUVs. As for compensation, Exley said that they follow Uber, Grab, and Lift standards.

“As a company, we only take a tiny percent by following market conditions as the transaction aims to be rewarding for both driver and passenger. From the fare, we will get 20% for the company for fees and 80% to the drivers.”

“So, the passenger spent $4 for fare that means $3.20 will go to the driver and 80 cents will got to the company for the software and this is the current model of Uber,” he added.

According to Exley, Island Ride eventually plans to offer more services related to moving people. “We aim to meet the unique needs of every person or family on Saipan. Digital Saipan also believes that the transportation needs on Saipan exceeds farther than just moving people. Aside from transporting a customer from point A to B, Island Ride will eventually offer food delivery, help customers transport their goods as when they need to move their belongings around the island, and provide life service information such as house for rent, gardeners, babysitters, etc.,” he said.

“One good thing about our company is Mr. Xi, the engineers, and I live here on Saipan. If something goes wrong with the software, we are here and not outsourced off-island so the community is guaranteed quality and continued service,” Exley said.

“Aside from Island Ride, Digital Saipan offers software platform data analysis service,” he added.

For more information, contact them at (670) 287-9758 or email Exley at The company’s website is http://www.digitalsaipan.

Bea Cabrera
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.
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