Uber SA has introduced a new payment system meant to increase driver safety.
The cash indicator feature allows operators to choose if they want to service clients on cash trip request or not.
This development is mainly in response to recent criminal incidents affecting Uber drivers.
Many have previously complained about the cash trip method because they believe it exposes them to robberies and hijacking.
The new cash indicator has been activated as a pilot.
It is expected to go live for all Uber operators by the end of this week.
“Unfortunately Uber’s technology cannot prevent crime but we are doing everything we can to prioritise the safety of those using the Uber app‚” Uber SA’s general manager Jonathan Ayache said in a statement issued on Thursday.
According to Uber‚ some drivers want the cash option to be completely removed but there are also those in favour of this method because it increases their profits.
“Cash is a dominant payment method in Africa and many riders do not have cards to use on the app. Cash removes the barrier for those without a card who want to use Uber that is why it’s not feasible to remove the cash option completely.
“We believe riders should have the freedom to pay for rides how they wish but also that driver-partners should have the freedom to accept cash trips or not‚” Ayache said.
Uber driver-partner Emmanuel Matwa supports the introduction of the cash indicator but urged Uber to improve rider identification features.
Matwa recommends that cash trip riders must be requested to provide identification numbers and images when requesting Uber services.
“Cash trips are very risky because riders can use fake SIM cards or provide incorrect details when requesting transport. Some drivers accept cash trips because they need the money‚ but these trips are dangerous especially at night‚” Matwa said.
Uber said driver-partners who declined cash trips would not be penalised and the new safety feature would not have any negative impact on the dispatch process.
“We are in the business of technology. We have introduced many key safety features that did not exist before the introduction of the Uber in South Africa. We remain committed to using and investing in technological solutions to any issues‚ safety included‚” the statement read.