Uber eyes use of mobile money services in Africa

Uber Kenya

Uber is now operational in seven African cities: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, and Pretoria in South Africa; Lagos in Nigeria; Cairo in Egypt; and Nairobi in Kenya.

Uber offers a cashless service, mainly targeting credit card holders, but the low penetration rates of credit cardholders outside South Africa has affected uptake of Uber’s services.

Conversely, mobile money penetration rates in Africa are the highest in the world. Consequently, it makes sense that Uber is exploring the use of mobile money services in Africa.

In Kenya, most transactions are done in cash or via mobile money. M-PESA is the clear leader in mobile money services in Kenya. When Uber launched in Nairobi earlier this year, online users voiced dissatisfaction with the inability to use M-PESA to pay for Uber services. Kenya’s public transportation system has a cashless system that uses M-PESA.

“We can confirm that we are exploring the possibility of integrating the M-PESA service in our system, but we don’t yet have expected time when this is likely to roll out,” said Alastair Curtis, a manager of international launches for Uber.

Besides being a clear alternative to credit cards, paying for Uber using mobile money services like M-PESA has another important benefit: Improved security for both passenger and driver.

Uber says it provides the safest, most affordable, and reliable ride service in the world.

“Uber is the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to consumer safety and this is all because of the technological innovation in the app,” Curtis said.

To improve security, Uber says its drivers go through rigorous criminal background checks. Additionally, Uber provides customers with driver information, a live GPS-enabled map that can be tracked by friends and family, and rider feedback.

Apart from providing reliable and affordable services, Uber is promising to provide employment to young people in the seven African cities in which Uber presently operates.

“Uber’s lead generation software facilitates a powerful entrepreneurship opportunity; every month going forward, Uber’s mission is to empower many young entrepreneurs to become small-business owners,” Curtis added.