Uber SA turns to cash

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In Cape Town alone, 200 Uber vehicles have been impounded in the last six months.

JOHANNESBURG – Five cities in South Africa will from next week be able to use cash to pay for their Uber cabs, the app-based car service said on Friday.

It will be the first time Uber experiments with the cash option, which will begin on Thursday in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

“We’re always looking at how we can make it easier for people to benefit from the convenient, safe and affordable option of taking an Uber,” said Alon Lits, General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa.

“This experiment will help us understand whether riders and driver-partners welcome the choice of paying by cash or card. As before, all trip details are electronically recorded and riders will always be able to pay by debit or credit card if they prefer.”

“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.”

Uber said providing the cash option would remove the “fear factor” for first-time riders as many people still had concerns about making their credit card information available.

Lits said South Africa was selected because it provided Uber with the right environment to experiment the cash payment option.

“Cash is a dominant payment method in Africa and this experiment will give Uber insight into how riders and driver-partners adopt and use a mix of cash and electronic payments, how consumer behaviour changes and what Uber can do to build a better product and provide a better experience,” Lits said.

“The lesson learnt here in South Africa (and across Africa) could have implications for the business across the world. Uber is imagining, innovating and developing smart solutions in Africa which could to be implemented globally.”

The announcement by Uber, which is likely to further rile conventional meter taxis who are up in arms over the loss of business, took place as metre taxi drivers pushed back against plans to licence the company’s drivers as public transport operators.

On Monday, Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi was attacked by meter taxi drivers over the imminent licencing of Uber drivers.

The meter taxi drivers claimed Uber was operating illegally, and claimed that Uber treated its drivers unfairly.

The Uber network, which is available in over 400 cities across the world, was launched in South Africa in September 2013.