When Uber entered India four years ago, it ran into a strange problem: people wanted to pay with cash. Much of the transactions in the country at the time happened with paper currency. Months later, the San Francisco-headquartered firm tailored its service for the local market and decided to introduce the option of allowing people to pay for their rides with wallet apps like Paytm, and then with cash. Two years later, Uber says it has found a more convenient option for payments in India.
Uber said on Wednesday it is adding a new payments method based on India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) infrastructure for users in the country, its largest overseas market. The feature, available on both Android and iOS starting Wednesday, will enable customers to instantly make payments for their rides, it said. UPI is the “most advanced” payments method the company has introduced in its app, an Uber executive said onstage. “This is it,” he said. “Period.” Notably, Uber first introduced UPI integration in its Android app last month, and Wednesday’s announcement serves as a formal announcement and integration into the iOS app.
As per the executive, UPI is the only payments method on Uber’s app which will enable users to complete the transaction without leaving the app. However, that isn’t exactly accurate – Paytm integration, as well as cash itself, offer the same functionality. Additionally, there is “no need for one-time password, there is no need to maintain a minimum balance,” he said. UPI-powered BHIM app is also available as a payments option, Uber said. Uber said the move will help “millions of drivers and partners to pay digitally.”
The arrival of Uber on the platform is a major win for UPI, which in the recent months has seen tremendous adoption. Even as several international giants including Amazon, Facebook and Google are working with NPCI to bring support for UPI on their apps, Uber is the biggest international giant to be onboard with UPI as of today. Ola brought UPI integration to its app back in April this year.
BHIM, the most popular UPI-powered app, itself reported 5,433,216 transactions in July 2017. “Advent of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and adoption of the Aadhaar (1 bn-plus enrolled), has created a backbone for instantaneous, inter-operable, cashless financial transactions,” analysts at Credit Suisse said.