Hailo, the company that allows smartphone users to order and pay for a taxi with their phones, is pulling out of North America, shutting down its Canadian operations in Toronto and Montreal.

"We have ... decided to end our operations in North America, where the astronomical marketing spend required to compete is making profitability for any one player almost impossible," Hailo's co-CEO Tom Barr said in a statement.

The taxi company has operations in many cities around the world, including Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Toronto and Montreal on this side of the Atlantic. Since launching three years ago, the company says it has given rides to 20 million customers around the world.

Taxi services such as Hailo, Lyft and Uber have gained fans by making it easier, cheaper and more convenient to get a taxi, supporters say. But critics say the services are unfair to conventional taxi firms and pose safety issues for drivers and users

In a blog post on its website, the Toronto location said, "Hailo Toronto would like to assure its drivers and loyal passengers that we will continue to deliver and support our service for the foreseeable future."

Justin Raymond, president of Hailo Canada, did not say how he hoped to continue operating, but advised there would be further updates on the site. 

A spokesman with the parent company had earlier said the two Canadian locations will close, along with every other operation in North America. But he said the company remains committed to its European and Asian locations. 

"Everything is closing, yes," spokesman Ashish Prashar said in a telephone interview. "[But] this is not to say we wouldn't revisit coming back to North America once we've built up our base in other parts of the world."

"This has been a difficult decision to make, and we are very sorry for the impact on our colleagues who will leave the company and are doing everything we can to help them with their future careers," Barr said.