Uber today announced that it will begin testing a cash payments system in Hyderabad, India, marking a global first for the credit card-based mobile app. In a blog post published today, the company described the initiative as an "experiment" in a part of the world where many consumers prefer to pay for services in cash.
"Tradition dictates that cash plays a big role for Indian consumers," Siddharth Shanker, GM of Uber Hyderabad, said in an email statement. "As a data-driven technology company that has seen strong growth in India we feel this is the right time to explore the extent of this predisposition when it comes to our service."
The experiment marks a notable shift for Uber, which rose to prominence largely on the strength of its seamless, interaction-free credit card payment system. The Hyderabad cash experiment will roll out over the next week, and will only be valid for rides within the city (population: 3.6 million). Users will be able to choose cash as a payment option before requesting an Uber ride, and will not be required to have a minimum balance on their Paytm accounts — the mobile wallet that Uber adopted for Indian users late last year. But they will need a valid Uber account to pay in cash, which means they'll still need to have a credit card or digital wallet account on file. The company also promises "no haggling" with drivers.