Speaking at a conference in London, Uber’s product designer Femke van Schoonhoven unveiled the ride-hailing app’s strategy to expand its cash acceptance programme as a means to respond to customer needs and increase profits.
In fact, the California-based start-up already deployed its cash-acceptance policy in 51 countries and is planning on adding more to the list in the future, India being n°1 for cash payments (accounting for 65% of all rides). Brazil also turns out to be a heavy cash user, with 25% of the company’s passengers choosing to pay in cash.
Speaking at the conference, Ms van Schoonhoven said “We realised there was a whole segment of people who didn’t use Uber because they didn’t have digital payment methods, so we knew that we had to consider those who don’t have access to a bank account and rely on cash as a daily method of payment to pay for their goods and services.”
Before diving into the cash option, Uber wanted to understand cash usage across the globe. After doing some research, it came to the conclusion that it was one of the most popular payment methods: “in the last year alone, 15.1% of the global population had used a credit card and 23.2% used a debit card – which meant that 61.7% had used cash as a payment method at least once” concluded Ms van Schoonhoven.
One of Uber’s main concerns when accepting cash was driver security. Indeed, when an app user pays with a card, the person’s identity can be verified and the payment secured. With cash, this can be more difficult. This explains why Uber asks cash payers a number of security questions, including to connect via their Facebook account to verify their identity and reassure the driver. Furthermore, in case of an issue with a payment - for example if the ride results to be longer and the rider doesn’t have enough change or vice-versa - Uber will either cover the outstanding cost for the first scenario, or simply add credit to the rider’s account for the second.