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Uber to allow users to book rides through WhatsApp in India

The service being launched this week will be available in Lucknow and then expanded to other cities, Uber has said

December 02, 2021 / 01:44 PM IST
Riding-hailing firm Uber laid off 600 employees in India across teams on May 26 as the coronavirus has hit the company hard with no choice but to reduce the size of its workforce. (Image: Reuters)

Riding-hailing firm Uber laid off 600 employees in India across teams on May 26 as the coronavirus has hit the company hard with no choice but to reduce the size of its workforce. (Image: Reuters)

Uber Technologies Ltd said on December 2 that it would allow users in India to book a ride through messaging service WhatsApp, a first for the US taxi-hailing giant.

The tie-up will allow Uber to expand its reach in India by tapping into Meta-owned WhatsApp’s 500 million users, the largest single user base.

"Starting this week, we are rolling out a new service that gives people the option to book an Uber ride via an official Uber WhatsApp chatbot," news agency Reuters quoted Uber as saying in a blog post.

The service will be launched as a pilot in Lucknow and will be later expanded to other Indian cities. It will be available to existing as well as new users with a registered mobile numbers.

"Riders will no longer need to download or use the Uber app. Everything from user registration, booking a ride, and getting a trip receipt will be managed within the WhatsApp chat interface," Reuters quoted Uber as saying.

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The service will be available in English, with Indian languages expected to be added soon.

WhatsApp users would be able to book ride by either messaging to Uber’s business account number, scanning a QR code or clicking a link directly to open an Uber WhatsApp chat.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for all Indians to take an Uber trip, and to do that we need to meet them on platforms they are comfortable with,” Nandini Maheshwari, Sr. Director, Business Development, Uber APAC, said.

“Our partnership with WhatsApp does just that, giving riders a new way to get a ride through a simple, familiar and trusted channel. We are thrilled at this global-first integration for Uber, and look forward to rolling it out across India.”

Riders will get the same safety features and insurance protections as those who book trips via the Uber app, the company said

If a user selects the "emergency" option during a trip, they will receive an inbound call from Uber’s customer support team, the company said.

The name and licence plate of the driver, location tracking and pickup point and safety guidelines would be available on WhatsApp, including a facility to speak to the driver using a masked number.

“The WhatsApp Business Platform has been an important lever for businesses that want to build a direct connect with their consumers. The Uber experience on WhatsApp is simple, familiar, and relatable for users and has the potential to accelerate the adoption of Uber with a new category of riders in India,” Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp India, said.

“We are excited about the potential of this partnership and look forward to creating more such customised solutions for products and services across sectors in India.”

WhatsApp has already rolled out in-app grocery shopping in collaboration with JioMart, Reliance Industries’ e-commerce platform.

Disclosure: Moneycontrol is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.



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Ira Puranik
first published: Dec 2, 2021 01:44 pm
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