You can now take an Uber ride when you run out of both physical cash and money in your bank account.

The ride-hailing company has added another payment feature to its app for users in  Africa. Riders can now load their ‘Uber Cash’ wallets with money for rides. 

It further reduces the need for cash payments or direct withdrawals from their bank accounts, the latter being a somewhat problematic process that requires customers to give out sensitive card information. 

Uber Cash will be available in South Africa, Kenya,  Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tanzania. Methods for topping-up wallets vary by country, with Uber working with fintechs and mobile money providers to facilitate the service.

“For example in Nigeria you can use your Verve Card or mobile money. In Kenya, you can use M-Pesa and EFT (electronic funds transfer), and in South Africa you can top up with EFT,” said Alon Lits, Uber’s General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Flutterwave is the infrastructure provider across all African countries where Uber Cash will be available. Transfers from Flutterwave’s Barter app, launched in 2019, to Uber Cash is also available. 

Uber has been a Flutterwave customer in Africa since 2017 so this is not an entirely new partnership. The latter’s B2B platform helps companies build payments systems that cut across national boundaries. 

However, Uber Cash is different in the sense that it could increase use cases for Flutterwave’s consumer-facing product, Barter, to more users similar to the way MPesa is used by millions of individual users in East Africa.

This is especially true considering Uber Cash isn’t just for rides; the feature is also available for Uber Eats, the ride-hailing company’s food delivery service that is currently only available in South Africa. 

In April, Flutterwave launched Flutterwave Store to help small businesses build an online presence, overcoming the physical limitations imposed by coronavirus lockdowns. The store has a database of over 1,000 small businesses across Africa, according to Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave’s CEO.

While not a direct consumer product, it gives the fintech some insight into consumer trends and habits. Flutterwave’s $35 million Series B closed earlier in the year was partly motivated by a desire to do more in the consumer products space. 

It presents Flutterwave an opportunity to further promote Barter whose use case has so far seemed limited to making dollar payments to foreign merchants for, say, school fees.

Alexander Onukwue Author

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