Uber has recently launched a pilot program providing a cash payment option for rides in Hyderabad, India. After making its debut in the country exactly one year ago it has already expanded to 10 cities.
The Indian radio taxi services market is pegged to be worth anywhere between US$6 - 9 billion by different estimates, and is forecasted to grow at 17-20% annually. The move by Uber India is regarded by many in the industry as smart in the short term due to the cash savvy nature of consumers
It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, however, for Uber India, which recently ran into regulatory hurdles with the central bank after objections to its payment authentication system. This issue was dealt with by the integration of the mobile wallet service PayTM, now a mandatory payment option (for all Uber customers in India).
The company also received complaints from the Radio Taxi Owners Association, stating that Uber is remitting foreign exchange out of India, bypassing RBI’s e-payment laws. The association stated that money charged was routed to a Holland-based Uber account near Amsterdam, from where it is further transferred to a U.S. Wells Fargo account. Only after seven days does 80% of the money paid reache a driver’s account in India.
With payments being in murky waters at the moment, the members of the Bitcoin India Alliance (BIA) shared their views on the benefits of using bitcoin as an equally effective alternative.
Vishal Gupta of the SearchCoin Network mentioned that If Uber were to work with bitcoin instead of cash or a digital wallet it could allow international travelers to use and pay through Uber app seamlessly across borders. Gupta said:
“It would take away the headache of converting currency at expensive rates which airport counters offer. This can save both time and money for frequent travellers.”
While Sandeep Goenka of Zebpay added:
“India is the ideal country for them as a company to accept bitcoins. Companies like Uber are bringing the future of urban transport to India; it would only make sense for them to accept the future of payment systems as well. Our economy is already struggling with archaic payment systems, and while regulation is promoting security over convenience, bitcoin truly brings together the best of both worlds.”