TaxiBeacon

Vancouver is one of the seven cities that will be able to use the app

Nekso is coming home.

The tech startup, originally built by Toronto-based Blanc Labs, has operated a taxi-hailing app in South America since it was founded last year.

On November 1, the company announced that it will be bringing its business into Canada and the U.S. So far, Nekso has raised US$6.5-million as part of the company's US$25-million fundraising round. Its app will launch in Vancouver and six other North American cities in early 2018.

Nekso operates like the popular Uber Technologies Inc. app, except it brings licensed taxis to the user’s location.

The service launched in Venezuela as a trial so Nekso could test and refine it before expanding north. Countries like the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Panama then adopted it. The company, which has partnerships with more than 550 taxi companies in South America, employs some 9,000 drivers.

It’s worth asking if the launch of Nekso in Vancouver will inflame, or perhaps quell, tension around the city’s relationship with ride-hailing apps.

Although the new NDP provincial government promised to bring services like Uber and Lyft to British Columbia by the end of the year, it now appears that Victoria won’t be delivering on that.

With Nekso arriving soon after the turn of the calendar, Premier John Horgan might be inclined to see whether the app catches on with the Vancouver public rather than lose the support of the B.C. Taxi Association.