The new payment method now allows customers to essentially pay with their debit card or net banking account, in addition to a credit card as before. Cash payments are still not supported. Customers charge a pre-paid wallet, which is then used to pay for Uber rides. Payments are thus deducted from the wallet, rather than directly from a debit or credit card.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that in the event that a customer has insufficient funds to pay their tab, the account goes into a negative balance and subsequently prompts them to top up and return their wallet to credit after the ride.
The new system — which is powered by India-based payment platform Paytm — is effective immediately in the country, although international credit cards can still be used.
Uber’s blog post announcing the wallet system doesn’t make mention of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulations that forced this change, instead the company said the pay-as-you-go system will be easier for its customers:
Convenient payment options are important to people everywhere. We hope these new choices will enable the lone woman traveler to get around safely, or the college student on a budget to get around cheaper with the fare split option.
Either way, the change should now allow Uber to operate in India in accordance with local legislation and rules. Those familiar with the company will know that it often rallies against the system, but in this case it had little choice but to adhere to the rules required in India. That said, when it comes to payments, Uber execs in Asia have previously told me that they are willing to be flexible, including — potentially — introducing cash payments in some markets.
Uber recently launched its vehicle financing program in India, in what was the first rollout in Asia, as it looks to compete on a more equal footing with local services like Ola, which recently raised $210 million, for the attention of drivers. Uber is currently serving 10 cities in India, that’s its second largest market behind only the U.S..