Uber cash op­tion pro­motes safety

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA ZWANE @Zwane_2li2ls

A CASH trips in­di­ca­tor is ex­pected to be in­tro­duced by cell­phone app-based taxi com­pany, Uber, fol­low­ing re­cent at­tacks on its driv­ers.

Uber South Africa has in­tro­duced a new, pi­lot, cash in­di­ca­tor fea­ture. Uber driv­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of The Move­ment, an or­gan­i­sa­tion ad­vo­cat­ing for driver safety, have raised con­cerns about the free­dom to choose cash or card trips.

“The cash in­di­ca­tor al­lows Uber driver-part­ners to choose whether they would like to ac­cept a cash trip re­quest or not,” said Uber spokesper­son Sa­man­tha Al­len­berg.

“Uber re­ceived feed­back from driver-part­ners ex­press­ing their need to be able to choose the kind of trips they wanted to ac­cept.

“This feed­back came from their fo­cus groups. Uber has taken heed of this re­quest and be­lieves the new cash in­di­ca­tor pi­lot will ad­dress their needs,” said Al­len­berg.

Gen­eral manger of Uber South Africa Jonathan Ay­ache ex­plained the rea­son for the de­ci­sion and why it was not fea­si­ble to re­move the cash op­tion from the app: “While some driver-part­ners have asked for the cash op­tion to be re­moved, other driver-part­ners feel the cash op­tion has opened them up to new rid­ers and pro­vides the con­sumer with more choice.

“Cash is a dom­i­nant pay­ment method in Africa and many rid­ers do not have cards to use on the app. Cash re­moves the barrier for those with­out a card who want to use Uber. That’s why it’s not fea­si­ble to re­move the cash op­tion com­pletely.

“We be­lieve rid­ers should have the free­dom to pay for rides how they wish, but we also be­lieve that driver-part­ners should have the free­dom to ac­cept cash trips or not,” Ay­ache said.

As a tech­nol­ogy-based busi­ness, he said, Uber had in­tro­duced many key safety fea­tures that did not ex­ist be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of Uber to South Africa.

How­ever, that did not ex­clude it from be­ing a tar­get for crime.

Teresa Munchick, spokesper­son for The Move­ment, said: “We are pleased that Uber has taken a step to­wards ad­dress­ing the issue of cash trips.

“Ac­cept­ing cash trips is your choice. How­ever, it ap­pears that this cash trip in­di­ca­tor is not work­ing for a lot of the driv­ers, and for them there has been no change at all,” she said.

A driver who asked to be anony­mous said that when he queried why the fea­ture was not show­ing, he had been told: “For the time be­ing we are only test­ing this fea­ture with a se­lect num­ber of part­ners.”

Munchick added: “Unfortunately, driv­ers who have not been se­lected will be lulled into a false sense of se­cu­rity… we look for­ward to it be­ing im­ple­mented for all driv­ers.”

PIC­TURE: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / REUTERS

SAFTEY: Pri­vate se­cu­rity guards stand out­side Uber’s of­fices in Park­town.

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