Uber is teaming up with Mastercard and financial institution BBVA to offer a debit card to drivers in Mexico, according to a report by Reuters.
The company wants to promote banking in what is mostly a cash country.
“Uber supports the extension of financial services in the country,” said Federico Ranero, Uber Mexico’s general manager.
There will be no commissions for using the card, said Carlos Lopez-Moctezuma, head of open banking at BBVA. The launch of the card is the first for Uber in a country outside of the United States, and it will be available in six Mexican cities initially: Mexico City, Tijuana, Monterrey, Puebla, Merida and Guadalajara. After the rollout, there are plans for it to be extended to the rest of the country.
The country is notoriously cash-reliant, as even the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, remarks often that he doesn’t use a credit card or have a checking account. About half of the country’s population is unbanked.
Uber has helped to push the country in the other direction, because drivers can’t get paid without having a bank account. About 35 percent of Uber workers in Mexico opened an account for that reason, Ranero said.
Some experts say long lines and wait times at banks, as well as a lack of branches in rural areas, all contribute to a lack of banking in the country.
Uber’s partnership with BBVA means that drivers can open accounts right in the app without having to go to an actual bank. Another way that Uber has tried to capture workers without bank accounts is by accepting cash fares. That endeavor hasn’t been widely accepted.
Legislators in Mexico City have passed laws that don’t allow for cash payments when it comes to ride-hailing companies and require workers to register with the city.
Ranero said Uber will discuss the issue with regulators but will continue to accept cash in the meantime.
“We believe this is a constitutional right of our riders and drivers,” he said.