Didi Chuxing is the dominant ride-hailing service in China, serving up 11 million rides every day to its 300 million users in 400 cities in the country.
Like all ride-hailing services, Didi has had to deal with ensuring its passengers' safety. One of its passengers was murdered by a Didi driver in May, and earlier this year the company removed 3,000 drivers from its service for not meeting the company's background checks.
That's why Didi recently increased its safety precautions, adding a handful of new features.
Here's what the company is currently doing.
Didi's new SOS button
One of the company's new safety features allows riders to tap an SOS button inside the app if something goes wrong during a ride.
The passenger's phone will then automatically start recording audio, which will be listened to by Didi's trained SOS Taskforce members, according to the company. Didi will be able to communicate with the passenger directly when SOS is enabled.
The app also sends out an alert to the rider's preset emergency contacts when SOS is activated. The company now allows riders to send their real-time location, destination, estimated time of arrival, and the vehicle license number to their contacts.
These services are now available for all of the company's users across the 400 cities where Didi Chuxing operates.
Ongoing background checks
Didi says its background checks are the most extensive in China.
The company looks at both local and national agency databases when researching drivers and their vehicles. The checks are ongoing, as well, so if something new pops up on a driver's record, the company should -- in theory -- find out about it.
Didi boasts that its background checks make it "the only ride-hailing platform in the industry to cooperate with relevant state departments" in China, which is a knock against Uber (the two companies are engaged in a turf war in the country, but Didi is winning).
Identity protection and verification
Didi's app now also keeps the phone numbers of both the passenger and the driver private so that neither one knows the other's direct contact information.
Didi has also implemented voice and facial recognition features for drivers. They are required to log in using the biometric features to prove that they are the person who is supposed to be driving the vehicle and picking up passengers.
Didi Chuxing already had safety measures in place for its service, but the company's ongoing expansion has put pressure on the company to make sure it's doing everything it can for its passengers' safety.
Didi just raised $7.3 billion from its latest round of funding, including $1 billion from Apple. Independent research shows that Didi holds about 85% of the ride-hailing market in China, while Uber says it holds one-third (both can't be right, of course). Uber just received more funding and will use some of it to expand further into China. The two will likely battle it out in China's ride-hailing market for the foreseeable future.
As these companies expand -- and potentially more news about safety issues emerge -- it's likely we haven't heard the last of what Didi, Uber, and other ride-hailing companies are doing to ensure passenger safety.
Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.