MaaS Global, a Finnish startup that wants to bring a multi-modal subscription transport service to cities globally, has raised €29.5 million ($33 million) in a round of funding from BP Ventures, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Nordic Ninja — a Japanese VC fund that specifically invests in Nordic companies.
Founded out of Helsinki in 2015, MaaS Global is better known for its mobile app Whim, which offers a range of subscription and pay-as-you-go plans allowing city travelers to book (and pay for) buses, trains, taxis, bikes, rental cars, and more — all from a single app.
Whim originally launched in its native Helsinki back in 2017, and it has since expanded to a handful of cities across the U.K., Belgium, and Austria. With another $33 million in the bank — taking its total funding to date to around $60 million — the company is well-financed to continue scaling its business to new markets in 2020. These will include the U.S., Japan, Singapore, and additional European cities.
“The world of transportation is going through disruption that is technology-enabled but, fundamentally, demand-driven,” noted MaaS Global CEO and founder Sampo Hietanen. “The new investment will help us continue scaling the business to new continents.”
It’s worth noting that MaaS Global is partnership-based, meaning the company requires buy-in from all the various mobility providers that operate in each city. And negotiating with the countless players around the world will likely be a time-consuming and resource-intensive endeavor, which is why this latest cash injection is pivotal to the platform’s expansion.
While prices and plans may vary from city to city and country to country, depending on the partnerships and transport options available, Whim’s current offering in Helsinki provides a glimpse into the kind of numbers users elsewhere in the world can expect.
A completely unlimited pass, covering all public transportation, bikes, taxis (within 5km), and rental cars, weighs in at €499 ($553) for the month. For €249 ($276) per month, you’ll get a rental car on the weekend, unlimited bike access, a 15% discount on taxis, and a 30-day public transport ticket. And for €59.7 ($66) per month, you’ll get public transport, unlimited bikes, capped-fare taxi rides, and flat-fare, per-day car rental.
Alternatively, you can buy all your tickets individually at their usual prices through the Whim app under the pay-as-you-go plan.
Whim represents part of a growing “multi-modal” shift in cities globally. All the main urban mobility companies are pushing heavily in that direction, including Uber — which not only now displays public transit data in its main ride-hailing app, but offers numerous transport options, from electric mopeds to bikes and scooters. Last week, urban transit app Moovit partnered with Waze Carpool to add ride-sharing to its myriad transportation options.
As with other industries, subscriptions are also playing a bigger part in the transport sphere, partly to encourage customer lock-in amid increasing competition. Uber, for example, now offers Ride Pass in some markets, providing lower prices on individual fares for a monthly fee of around $25.
All of this is what is commonly referred to as “mobility as a service” (MaaS), which is why Whim’s parent company has incorporated that acronym into its name. The MaaS industry is expected to grow from $6.8 billion in 2020 to $106.8 billion by 2030, according to a recent MarketsandMarkets report, so we can expect many similar services to crop up in the coming years. Back in February, popular transit app Citymapper launched City Pass in London to serve as an all-in-one subscription for multiple modes of transport.
Whim feeds into that broader picture, which acknowledges that commuters would rather not fiddle around with different apps and passes when they could manage all their transport options through a single portal.
“Whim is super convenient — it offers users a single digital key that unlocks the full spectrum of city transport. It takes the hassle out of planning travel, taking on board users’ preferences and connecting and booking their ideal transport choices,” said Roy Williamson, vice president for advanced mobility at BP. “The mobility-as-a-service industry is forecast to grow significantly in revenue by 2030, as the market shifts toward a model of on-demand access to both public and private transport networks.”
Whim said it has facilitated more than 6 million trips since its launch two years ago, a number that should rise sharply as it gears up for global expansion in 2020.