Uber Now Lets You Pay In Cash In Some Cities

A few weeks back I used Uber during an overnight in Colombo, so I’ve been receiving email updates about their service there ever since. Usually I’d just delete the emails, but the one in my inbox this morning caught my eye, as the subject line read “Arriving now: Cash payments in Colombo.”

Hilton-Colombo - 24

I was confused at first, because in my opinion half of the benefit of Uber is that it’s cashless. To me, marketing “Uber” and “cash” in the same sentence would be the same as marketing “Starbucks” and “gin & tonic” or “Dunkin’ Donuts” and “steak tartarte” in the same sentence. They just don’t go together… or so I thought.

Here’s what the email said:

We are thrilled to let you know that starting today, you will be able to pay for your Uber rides with cash!

That’s right – you get all the Uber awesomeness and even more options when it comes to paying for your ride. Simply choose the CASH option, take a ride and pay your driver directly in cash at the end of the trip.

If you do not see the cash option in the app right away, don’t worry the cash option will roll out gradually to everyone over the coming weeks.

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As you can see, the process is pretty simple, as you just select “CASH” as the payment option when selecting a ride, and then you pay the driver in cash.

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There’s even an Uber press release about this new opportunity. Apparently Uber did a cash test in Hyderabad, and now are expanding the option to pay in cash to 130 cities around the world.

When I first saw this I said to myself “well what’s the point then?” But I can definitely see merit to Uber beyond the cashless aspect of it. Uber is also great because it lets you track your ride, generate receipts, provides transparent pricing, and you can always follow-up with Uber after the fact, even if you paid in cash.

I suspect this change is coming to cities where some people might not have a credit or debit card, and therefore they might be people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to use Uber.

As far as the driver goes, I suspect Uber simply subtracts their cut of the cash rides from the Uber driver’s pay that’s processed by credit cards, which I suspect is still a majority of rides.

This is an interesting advancement, even if on the surface the cashless aspect is what many of us like most about Uber.

Have you ever seen the option to pay for an Uber ride in cash?

Comments

  1. In fact this has already been in practice in many cities for a long time now. I have seen (and used it) particularly when I have travelled to India. It’s great for many people there who may not have credit cards or compatible debit cards.

  2. The problem with paying in cash is that if your bill comes up to $18.01 for example, UBER rounds up to $19.00 instead of rounding down and if your bill is $18.99, it makes sense to round up to $19.00. This comes to a shock when I thought it was a glitch but many of my friends who have paid cash told me of this and UBER drivers informed them that it is what it is without further explanation as to why they round everything up to the next dollar instead of rounding to dollars and cents.

    Essentially, that is what UBER is doing right now in most cities around Asia. I can’t tell if it applies to other cities elsewhere.

  3. The option has been in Peru for a while now. At least a year. This mainly due for people not having cc or not feeling comfortable using them online.

  4. I’ve used it while traveling overseas to India. I was expecting Uber to bill me on PayPal as usual but it wouldn’t accept the booking till I selected cash.

    I understand am OPTION for cash or electronic.. But why force me to pay cash.

    Definitely an inconvenience for foreign travelers having to dabble in money when it should have been handled electronically.

  5. There are multiple factors that UBER chose this strategy and why it worked

    1. India is not a place where people are comfortable doing online transactions. OLA (UBER biggest competition in India was beating it, for that exact reason).

    2. Most people are not tech savvy and don’t know how to setup 2 step Credit card (unlike USA where you just insert the details.) In INDIAN RBI guidelines –
    A. You need to enable your card for online transaction (or ask bank to issue you pre-enabled online card.)
    B. Setup Card to have a separate password or generate One time password every time someone needs to charge the card.

    3. India is a country where people don’t want to declare their money to govt. Cash transactions make it one of the best way to not declare your asset. Whenever you are required to use bank account – all your details go to GOVT and hence people stayed away from that.

  6. I can see this working really well in Buenos Aires, where Uber has been really controversial and the government forced credit card companies to block charges from Uber…so only people with foreign credit cards have been able to use it.

  7. Here’s the weird thing about paying with cash (have done in India for a while). If you cancel a ride after the cancellation fee has kicked in, you have to pay that fee in cash to the NEXT driver you get. I guess then they settle up with Uber daily/weekly/etc. It seems like a lot of extra work for a model built around electronic transactions, but I understand why they would want to open themselves to more markets where cash is still king.

    Also seems like the drivers never have much change available…

  8. Sorry, not going to use it. The main appeal for me with rideshare services is the cashless option. I used Lyft for the first time over the weekend, and actually tipped through the app. I’ll pay more for a service if I don’t have to carry cash.

  9. As previous posters have mentioned, this option has been there in some markets for quite a while. It started a few years ago in India because Uber’s technology could not handle two-factor auth as required for all Indian issued credit cards per the Reserve Bank of India. This also helped accelerate the growth of electronic wallets in India such as PayTM.

  10. Would be a bad idea for the U.S.
    Uber drivers will be getting robbed left and right. And haggling with customers over the price, etc…. — just like cab drivers.

  11. Option has been available in Egypt for many, many months now and has been working excellently.

    – Cost is always rounded down
    – When the driver has no change, you’d reach an agreement whereby you either get a credit for the rest of your money, or you pay less (e.g. 10 LE if your bill is 14 LE)

    It’s very well suited to Egypt as credit cards are luxury items here given the rules for issuing them. Similarly, I can order an Uber for someone else without sensitivity as they pay cash. I do, however, prefer credit cards as I can just hop out of the Uber ride and I’m all set.

  12. lucky/ben what is wrong with paying with cash for something? and then not having a big credit card bill at the end of the month? do you want a cashless society?, where the government or companies or anyone can track your every spending move?

  13. Ben
    Uber has the option to pay for cash in all the indian cities for a little more than a year now. Also a couple of months ago they introduced the same in Malaysia.
    Sathya

  14. Santiago de Chile has had Uber cash payments for about the past 2 months. I think Uber will likely be a bad news story away from regretting this decision, with the inevitable negative news stories that will come from an Uber driver being robbed. While generally a safe city, thefts are unfortunately more common here than in US cities. Uber will definitely be less safe for the drivers now.

  15. Seems like a tax dodge. I can’t fathom why they would get rid of credit cards. That’s the best part. Guess I’ll ride Lyft more.

  16. As many readers have pointed out, this has been active in India for over a year now. While having to pay cash is an inconvenience, UBER is the most reliable taxi service in most Indian service and still has a strong value proposition.

  17. No, Uber didn’t get rid of credit cards. they added cash as an option. No doubt this is very upsetting to some, but believe it or not, it actually doesn’t make any difference to you if you pay with a credit card.

    As others have noted, credit cards are not often used in countries such as India, in part because they are difficult to use due to fraud protections, and in part because they are harder to get from the banks. In poor countries, higher incidence of CC fraud is inevitable. People commonly make even large purchases with wads of cash.

    Uber would have liked to keep its original theme of no-cash no-tipping etc, but when it doesn’t work, it acepts reality. It will do what increases its business, and in many countries that means cash.

    Again, as others have noted, Uber accepting cash is not news in most of the world. This blog is behind the times.

  18. In Asia, especially India and south east Asian countries, not a lot of people have credit cards or debit cards of any kind. It’s been the practice already that UBER accepts

  19. As an Uber driver in Malaysia, I prefer card riders cmpared to cash ones. Usually riders who pay by card are of higher quality and I don’t like fumblingekth cash and change at the end of the ride. Still, the cash option do cause n increase in business.

  20. I’ve used the cash option in Accra, and a few other markets. Think you’ve just seen the option now since you mainly travel to Western places. I think it’s a nice option to have, especially in certain markets, where cash is preferred payment method for transport.

  21. Cash payments were started in India not due to low credit card penetration but also because the central bank here had mandated a 2 factor authentication process for online card transactions via OTP or password. Considering the patchy telecom networks, this would always be a challenge if travelling to some out of the way location. What was done by Uber then was to partner with a digital wallet company Paytm whose wallet would be used to deduct your fare. The wallet could be loaded with any credit/debit card or bank account or even cash. Since the wallet could be used to pay other utilities bill , people opened up to the idea to blocking their money there. The cash transactions part started much later due to the various reasons elaborated above.

  22. Cash payment option has been present in India since more than a year now. Uber introduced this option because even today a lot of Indians don’t use Credit Cards or Debit Cards. They were not able to access a big chunk of the market even though demand for Uber was there. Also the Reserve Bank of India mandates an additional security code or OTP for all transactions. So they introduced the cash option. Now all cashless transactions are done through online wallets, primarily this online wallet service called PayTM.

  23. As long as you are NEVER pressured into paying cash rather than with cc in any way, like not being able to book cars with the cc option, I think it is up to the countries to decide whether they like the potential for tax dodging.
    But what I absolutely do not like is when tips are expected in excess of the fare. With Uber both driver and rider have agreed to the conditions, and then that should be it. No need for second guessing how much tipping is customary, or bad reviews if you don’t tip enough. A deal is a deal, take it or leave it. And if the service is not ok you can complain to Uber. Why else use it?

  24. when will a driver be robbed and possibly hurt or killed. happens all the time in th U.S. not necessarily Uber. It will happen sooner or later.
    Bad choice Uber……

  25. I like how some people are sayin “I’ll not be using UBER because they take cash.” Like using your credit card is not an option anymore. Much hate, little tact or smarts.

  26. Given that there will be more safety issues to the drivers who takes in cash from cash-paying riders in these cities that accept cash, what do you think Uber can do to reduce the cash-related safety issues like robbing and kidnapping of Ola or Uber drivers?

  27. I was very grateful for the cash option to come online in Africa as it is not easy to have online transactions and credit cards and so on, especially between all the different countries, so it was a big bonus for me and many others. It’s great to have the power to CHOOSE.

  28. As a driver in the US, I will quit 1st. I drive in some very iffy Chicsgo neighborhoods, n they think u have cash, ur done. Bad choice Uber.

  29. The only people paying cash matters to would be the drivers. If you want to take some stance on the moral high ground, maybe you should be asking why don’t these countries/cities better police their neighborhoods. Uber drivers do have a choice, they aren’t under a contract so they are free to quit if they feel unsafe. So if you feel this is a bad idea, then go bust the balls of bankers to not accept cash as it increases the risk of robberies.

    Use some common sense, as uncommon as it is. Truth is you can’t teach common sense to those who lack it, so I guess that last point was moot.

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