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Uber Money to launch in India in summer next year

The cab-hailing company plans to provide a UPI-based full-stack payments and credit offering to its riders and drivers.

October 30, 2019 / 01:06 PM IST

Cab-hailing company Uber is targeting the summer of 2020 for the launch of Uber Money in India to provide better financial services access to its driver partners, sources have told Moneycontrol.

India would be among the first six countries, where Uber Money would be launched, said one of the two sources.

"Uber plans to launch Uber Money in the next six to eight months in India to drive direct access to banking and financial inclusion for its driver partners," said the source.

India is an important market for the San Francisco-based taxi aggregator when it comes to booking volumes. In its recent IPO filing, the company revealed that 13 percent of Uber’s gross bookings in 2018 came from India.

The source also said that Uber Money would be based on UPI, or Unified Payments Interface, in India. “The payments interface in India is a lot more developed than in the US. Launching it in India will be easier,” the source said.

In the US, according to the Uber statement, drivers and couriers would have real-time access to their earnings after every trip through the Uber Debit account. In India, the same would be done through UPI-linked bank accounts.

Along with giving drivers direct access to their money, the ride-hailing company also plans to offer credit facilities based on payment history, other financial products and give debit cards to them.

“Uber has built a global payments network,” said the second source. “They already have a hardcore payments infrastructure. In India, too, a payment infrastructure already exists and Uber Money can ride on it.”

Over the last few years, Uber has branched into courier and food delivery services as well. “Payments become a critical play to bring an ecosystem together,” said the first source.

Providing drivers’ access could just be the first step. “The financial services business can become more profitable than the driver business,” said the second source.

Uber’s tie-up with UPI in 2017 was the first indication of its plan to get into the financial services space. A bunch of the features of Uber Money was built in India, the first source said.

Uber also plans to open talks with fuel companies to provide cashback to drivers, the source said.

For riders, Uber Money may provide a co-branded credit card like the one offered by Amazon Pay. Using the card, riders will be able to get cashback on trips, shop and order food.

Uber’s entry will add to the competition in the payments industry, which is a busy field with Indian companies such as Paytm, BharatPe and PhonePe, and multinationals like Google Pay and WhatsApp. Then there is the government-owned BHIM app.

Uber’s rival Ola also has big financial services plans with Ola Money.
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Sunny Sen
first published: Oct 30, 2019 01:06 pm