It has taken Uber a long time to integrate M-PESA payments in its app, but it is finally here. Uber has also introduced a critical safety feature to boost rider security.

Ride-hailing app Uber has introduced M-PESA payments on its platform, allowing riders to settle their cab fare using the mobile money service operated by Safaricom. This comes after the Uber Eats platform introduced the same feature a few weeks ago. The arrival of this product couldn’t have come at a better time, following years of frustration from customers who questioned why the feature wasn’t available.

Previously, riders who wished to pay for trips via M-PESA had to request the driver’s M-PESA number and send the cab fare directly to them. While this method worked for some, it did not involve Uber, leaving it up to the driver to remit their commission to Uber.

Kui Mbugua, General Manager UberEats, Kenya, commented, “We entered into this partnership with Safaricom to enhance the experience for delivery people and eaters on our platform through ease of access to earnings and providing a convenient mode of payment for deliveries, respectively.”

The M-PESA integration goes beyond settling cab fees. Drivers can now receive their disbursements using M-PESA if they choose to do so. Previously, disbursements were limited to bank accounts. However, those without bank accounts can opt for the M-PESA option with the new channel. Alternatively, those with bank accounts can still choose M-PESA and eliminate one-step transaction charges when transferring their disbursements from the bank to mobile money wallets.

“Through integrating M-PESA for trip payments, we are excited to bring the ease and convenience of mobile money to riders on our platform. We are pleased to have found a partner in Safaricom to take this significant step towards enhancing financial inclusion in the country,” Imran Manji, head of Uber, East Africa, said.

Safaricom CEO, Peter Ndegwa also highlighted the usefulness of the feature. “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. We maintain a strong commitment to working with partners such as Uber as they enable us to deliver more value and opportunities to our customers in line with our purpose to transform lives,” he said.

These features were announced today during a media meeting held at the Safaricom headquarters. Manji emphasised a recent security addition for the Kenyan market – audio recording. This feature, already available in Nigeria and South Africa, allows drivers and riders to record audio during their trips for enhanced safety. The rationale is that riders would feel safer knowing their trip is being recorded, as it increases the likelihood of a safe experience when the driver is aware of the recording.

The recording is done anonymously, and the resulting audio file is locally stored on the device and encrypted. Neither the driver nor the rider can listen to their recordings, but if a safety issue arises, the recording can be uploaded to Uber for investigation. The recording automatically self-destructs after seven days if no safety issue has been reported.

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