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Uber: Live and let live – can the world learn from the Baltics?

Uber seems have attracted a lot of trouble as of late: bans in London, protests in Bogotá, complaints about unfair competition, and what seems like an endless stream of attacks against passengers, the company seems to always be making the headlines.

But, following a model in Eastern Europe, namely Latvia, could regulation in other countries allow the company to operate without trouble – and attract startup development, as well?

Latvian parliament unanimously passed a law in September – due to come into effect next March – which allows ridesharing services to be offered by a passenger car with up to four seats, requested and approved only through an app, and with only electronic payments accepted.

Taxi services will continue to accept both cash and electronic payments.

And not only in Latvia is regulation seen as the way forward. Finland, despite temporarily banning Uber, will welcome the company back next year – regulated – while Lithuania has made headway to legalise its services.

It is this philosophy the Baltics and other parts of Europe have of accepting tech initiatives as they are, with a dose of government intervention, that will attract tech companies and, ultimately, invite startups and tech innovation to their welcoming arms.   

Latvia always encourages startups to flock to their country. For example, the Latvian Startup law, introduced last year, creates a flat monthly tax of €252 per employee for startups.

This shows that emerging businesses are welcomed and the country is seen as a competitive spot for startups.

Upright bans on Uber are not something Central and Eastern Europe are likely to benefit from.

By accepting the fact that technology and disruptive industries are always evolving, and wanting to break into industries, countries – or governments – can work with them.  

The world can learn from Lativa and the Baltics.

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