Taxi hailing firm Uber has added cash and mobile money payment options to its service in Nairobi in a bid to grow the number of users.
The options go live Friday, making Kenya the second market in which Uber has added a cash option after trying out its card-based cashless model.
“Paying with cash is really important for people in Kenya,” said Jambu Palaniappan, Uber regional general manager for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. “This cash experiment will give us some great insights and help us develop our technology to best meet the needs of local consumers.”
The cash system was first rolled out in Hyderabad, India last month.
“It will roll out gradually over the next few weeks,” said Mr Palaniappan. “Not all of you will be able to see the cash option (on your mobile app) right away as we are testing different groups and user preferences.”
This comes to target users that are not comfortable having their debit or credit card details online.
Riders who choose the cash payment option will take a ride and pay their driver at the end of the trip an amount calculated by the app and rounded up to the nearest Sh50 to ease issues of change.
The cashless system for public transportation launched in Kenya is struggling to take off with many commuters still opting to pay for their trips in cash.
The San-Francisco based company has been expanding its services in Kenya with the recent introduction of Uber 4 Business (U4B), targeting corporate Kenya. The service is set to rival corporate cab services offered locally by taxi companies like Pewin, Princess, Wote and Jatco by providing users with less paperwork as well as Uber’s popular hailing and tracking options.
In Chicago and New York, Uber launched another service last month dubbed UberEats. Piloted in Los Angeles and Barcelona, the app allows users in the four cities to get food from restaurants delivered to them.
The app company is seeking to cement its hold on the Nairobi taxi market before making any expansion into other cities in Kenya or the region.
“We want to first get Nairobi right,” said Mr Palaniappan.
Uber has grown rapidly in value to be worth around $40 billion (about Sh4 trillion). According to the Financial Times, the company is readying another huge round of funding to fuel its global expansion.