Didi Chuxing, once Uber’s biggest ride-share rival in China, took one more step toward enticing foreign users to its service on Monday by releasing an English-version update of its app in China’s three largest cities.
Users in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou will now have the option of an English interface, as well as the ability to instant message drivers, thanks to real-time translation. Until now, the company that has overseas ambitions only offered a Chinese-language app that also didn’t accept foreign credit cards.
The release of the app was a long time coming. Since Didi acquired Uber’s China business last year, the English Uber China app has been nixed. The Chinese-only Didi app, meanwhile, has appeared provincial for a startup that has spoken at length about worldwide expansion.
In February, Didi formed an international division, and said going global was one of the top priorities for this year. “Internationalization of mobility services in China is a crucial link in Didi’s broader global strategy,” the company said Monday in a statement explaining its new offering for foreign visitors to China. “As an international economic and cultural hub, China increasingly attracts inbound foreign tourists, business travelers and expatriates.”
Overseas success is still elusive for Didi, but it has partnerships in southeast Asia and India with Grab and Ola. And two weeks ago, Didi announced raising $5.5 billion that grew its private valuation to $5o billion, second in the world only to Uber. The new funding is expected to help fund a research lab in Silicon Valley for autonomous driving.