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Uber begins testing cash payments

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Taxi-hailing app appeals to local tradition with India experiment

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."

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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.