You might reasonably expect that cab passengers using the Uber ride-hailing app in Kenya could already pay for trips via Safaricom’s mobile payment service M-Pesa – but you would be wrong; the arrival of the service was announced this week.
In fact M-Pesa could be used before now, but it wasn't a seamless process. Previously, passengers using M-Pesa had to request the driver’s M-Pesa number and send the cab fare directly to them. The driver then had to remit their commission to Uber.
This isn’t just convenient for unbanked passengers. Uber’s data shows that about 20% of drivers on the platform do not have bank accounts.
According to local news services, this launch comes after Safaricom and another big Uber platform, Uber Eats, rolled out an arrangement that allows consumers to pay for food and drink deliveries through M-Pesa. Delivery people can now also receive their earnings through M-Pesa.
As local news service TechCabal notes, the arrival of M-Pesa payment for Uber services hasn’t been quick and follows what it calls “years of frustration from customers who questioned why the feature wasn’t available”.
Safaricom CEO, Peter Ndegwa has highlighted the usefulness of the feature, saying: “This partnership with Uber will enable us to provide thousands of drivers and delivery people alongside millions of customers with a fully digital solution with faster, secure, affordable, and convenient payments through M-Pesa.”.
M-Pesa is the largest payments platform in Africa, with more than 40 million users. Safaricom says it processes over a billion transactions every month and that the platform is used for shopping, savings, loans, insurance – and now, finally, Uber trips.