From next Thursday‚ some Uber users will be able to pay drivers in cash‚ the e-hailing service announced on Friday.
Half of Uber’s new and existing customers will have the option of paying their drivers with cash‚ said Alon Lits‚ general manager for Uber sub-Saharan Africa‚ of the pilot system..
“We need to assess if it is successful or not‚ so it is not going to be available to 100% of people‚ ” Lits added.
New Uber users will have the option of signing up to pay only in cash and enter any credit card details‚ while existing users will be able to switch between payment methods.
Uber drivers will‚ once they have accepted the trip‚ be able to see whether the customer will be paying by cash or card. Trip costs will be rounded off to the nearest R1.
Lits added that there were mechanisms in place in the case the customers were unwilling to pay‚ such as adding the cost to their next trip.
Since launching in South Africa in 2013‚ Uber has only accepted credit card payments. But the company has had success with the cash option in other African countries such as Nigeria and Kenya.
“Offering cash as an alternate option has proven to be very successful for Uber. The introduction of cash in Singapore‚ for example‚ had an extremely positive response and this is a country that has a substantial credit card penetration and very high GDP per capita‚” Lits said.
Lits added that the option reduces the barrier for people who want to use the application‚ but are worried about their payment information being online.
The company also said that the new option would open doors for South Africans who did not have a credit card or were just more comfortable using cash to take their first ride.
South Africa will be the first country in the world to experiment with cash option system across five cities simultaneously: Johannesburg‚ Pretoria‚ Cape Town‚ Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Lits said that the new option had been communicated to Uber drivers and there were some concerns around the safety of dealing in cash.
He said there was no data from other markets that indicated the new methods of payment would compromise safety.
“Drivers [are] driving around with a smartphone in their vehicle‚ which is worth a couple of thousand rands‚ so if they have some cash it does not necessarily increase their risk‚” Lits said.
Lits said that they had set up an emergency number and there was an engagement process with drivers.
Uber’s move to accept cash payments in South Africa comes after the company cut its fares by up to 20% in the country for the winter period in an attempt to increase demand during the period.
The move to cut prices was met with mixed reactions by drivers‚ with some saying that they were making less money while others said that it only had a slight impact.
On Monday‚ TMG Digital reported that an angry group of men who appeared to be metered taxi operators assaulted and shouted at Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi.
Vadi had just announced that the department had started the process of issuing operating licensed to Uber driver partners where they can operate as metered taxis.