Being an on-demand app, most consumers think about Uber as being cash-free, electronic payments that are made in-app without much thought from the consumer’s end once the initial payment credentials are entered.
However, Uber made a bold move away from its business model in a pilot that started in Hyderabad, an Indian city of nearly 8 million that relies heavily on cash. And, in a place where cash is king and consumers are looking to use their cellphones to hail a cab, Uber knew it could tap into a big market.
If it offered a cash option, of course. And despite this not fitting into the company’s traditional model that is pitched for its frictionless, hassle-free payment that doesn’t involve any haggling, Uber has discovered how cash can help it break into a market that’s far different than its home in the U.S.
It’s been successful enough that it has led Uber to continue growing its cash payments. Moving outside of its initial market, Uber has recently added cash options in 10 markets, including in India, most of Southeast Asia, Kenya, Nigeria, some of the Middle East and Peru. Uber has plans to continue expanding the cash option, too.
The reason, of course, being that, in many regions around the world, particularly the underbanked and unbanked regions, cash is still king.
“We recognize that not everyone uses a credit card, and there are different payment mechanisms in different places. We want to be able to serve everyone so, fundamentally, everyone needs to accommodate our system or we need to accommodate how riders in other markets pay,” Asia-based Uber executive Mike Brown told TechCrunch.
More recently, an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch that cash has become “a very important experiment that is now in multiple markets globally and will have implications for our business across the world.”
And that was confirmed by CEO Travis Kalanick, who, according to that report, said in a recent India trip: “You have to be empathetic to reality. You can bend reality, but you cannot break it … We take cash in India. We’ve always wanted to provide quality customer support, and that’s the only non-negotiable.”