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Uber: HK our fastest growing market outside US

Uber: Enjoying the ride in Hong Kong

Rapidly expanding car-on-demand service Uber told CNBC that Hong Kong is its fastest growing market outside of the U.S.

The San Francisco-headquartered firm has seen exponential growth since launching in 2009; it now operates in 150 cities worldwide, up from 100 in April. It set up shop in Hong Kong in mid-July and Thursday launched its taxi app UberTaxi in the city.

"The business here in Hong Kong has been absolutely taking off. It's the fastest growing that Uber's ever had outside of the U.S.," Sam Gellman, general manager for Hong Kong at Uber told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box " on Thursday.

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Uber is a mobile application that connects passengers with both professional and non-professional drivers of vehicles for hire. Customers request a ride from their smartphone, and the fare is automatically deducted from their credit card, making the service cash-free. The firm also offers a carpooling service which lets riders share and split the cost.

Hong Kong was expected to be a difficult market for Uber, considering average taxi fares are less than half of those in New York and a third of London fares, Deutsche Bank research showed.

The firm told the FT last month that an average ride with an Uber car will be 1.5 to 2 times more expensive than a regular Hong Kong cab, making the service a premium alternative taxi service.

Uber will compete against EasyTaxi - the largest taxi app in Asia - in Hong Kong.

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The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The venture start-up has shaken the traditional taxi market and provoked protests by taxi drivers in Europe.

In June traditional cab drivers in London staged a protest against Uber, which they argue is not regulated enough. Traditional cabbies in Rome, Paris, Berlin and Milan also protested.

Gellman said this is a natural reaction to disruptive technology.

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"When you make an industry that's been very similar for the past multiple decades different, there are people who want it to stay the same," said Gellman.

But the controversy doesn't end there. Uber was recently embroiled in a tit-for-tat dispute with rival firm Lyft, after the companies accused each other of trying to sabotage their business.

On Monday Lyft said roughly 180 employees at Uber had ordered and then cancelled thousands of Lyft rides since October, slowing its service and resulting in lost fares, PC World reported. Uber countered by describing the claims as "patently false" and on Tuesday countered by accusing Lyft of ordering and cancelling 13,000 trips on Uber.

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Gellman declined to comment on the dispute.

Uber was valued at $18.2 billion in June after the company said it raised $1.2 billion from a consortium of investors led by mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments.