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Whim gathers all modes of transport into one package: “We provide freedom of movement without the trouble of ownership”

MaaS Global is about to make an international breakthrough. CEO Sampo Hietanen wants to build the Whim service into the Netflix of transport, in which all means of transport are in more efficient use and sustainable transport is worthwhile.

Image: Petteri Tuukkanen, Berry Creative

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“MaaS Global was born in Finland, the idea of mobility as a service emerging when Finnish companies, researchers, public administration and NGOs began to brainstorm how to reform transport together. MaaS comes from the words “mobility as a service” and means a service in which passengers can seamlessly use all transport services with a single payment.

MaaS Global is the first company to emerge from that brainstorming and is the first of its kind in the world. In 2015, a representative of a French public transport company called me and said they would finance us if we set up a company. Ten other fearless investors also joined.

We realised very early that transport cannot be revolutionised by just replacing private cars with something else. Instead, something even more inspiring, meaningful and valuable must be developed to replace them. What is required is the freedom to go anywhere at any time. This is where we got our name Whim from.

With Whim, the existing transport resources are used wisely and driving is replaced by other modes of transport, which reduces emissions. For example, Helsinki is full of cars that sit unused, waiting for the owner’s next trip to the summer house. With one monthly fee, users can access all means of transport, from trains to shared cars and from taxis to scooters.

The number of minutes people use for transport almost always stays the same. What is decisive for us is the average cost of the total number of kilometres. The environment is happy and we earn money if we manage to attract users to take advantage of the affordable and low-emission modes of transport in our service even slightly more than before. Users want to reach their destinations safely and fast. We want it to happen sustainably.

We hope that, in future, the service will enable the user to access all means of transport in the world without restrictions. The service is already available in several European and Asian cities.

People have more enthusiasm that you might think. They are ready for change, whereas companies and the industry are warming to it more slowly. However, we should not become cynical. A few years ago, I was horrified about the amount of traffic around me in Istanbul. It is great to be able to contribute to it being less chaotic in 2030. Few people are given the opportunity to set up a company which will also help to save the world.”

“After 40 years of owning a car, I have considered giving up my own. Before the final decision I tried the Whim Unlimited service for a month. When the time was nearly over, the service had exceeded the already high expectations. After this, owning a car feels unnecessary, expensive and troublesome.”

Ari Palhamo, Helsinki

“There is a huge circular economy potential in transit. Whim comes with a built-in aim to reduce the user’s emissions. A global pioneer that now needs to find a way to make sure the service truly takes off.”

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