WhatsApp, Uber join hands to offer ride-hailing services in India

(Image credit: Uber Whatsapp)

In what appears to be a win-win deal for all concerned, ride-hailing service Uber has joined hands with WhatsApp to allow commuters to book a cab using the messaging app. In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind service anywhere in the world, the joint effort is likely to result in more customers for both. 

For the moment, this ride-hailing service from WhatsApp is available in Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh state and both companies said they would soon come to other locations in the near future. 

The ride-booking service would be available to WhatsApp users through a Uber chatbot that will update the user's account details, pick-up location, destination and other details through text messages to the Meta-owned messenger service. The process of hailing a cab would get initiated when a commuter starts conversing with the chatbot. 

As for existing Uber customers, they can use one of three options to book a ride. They can send a message to Uber's business account on WhatsApp, scan a QR code or directly clicking a link on their WhatsApp messenger, the company said in a press statement. 

Upon booking the ride, the customer will have all details such as the driver's name, the vehicle registration details, and a live location till the pick-up point  - all delivered via a WhatsApp message. Additionally, the estimated fare and time of arrival of the drive too would be communicated. Uber's statement said the company's safety-first approach and insurance protection details will be applicable to WhatsApp bookings.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for all Indians to take an Uber trip, and to do that we need to meet them on platforms they are comfortable with,” said Nandini Maheshwari, senior director of business development at Uber, in the statement. 


(Image credit: Aakash )

The company said their services would be available in English language on WhatsApp for now and that it would be expanded to include more Indian languages soon. This could be a dampener during the initial phase as while WhatsApp recognizes Indian language fonts, the same may not be the case with Uber. 

From WhatsApp's point of view, the Meta-owned company has been working on making itself more useful in a market that boasts of its largest customer base. The company had tied up with Reliance JioMart for grocery deliveries and rolled out a digital payment option recently as well.

WhatsApp had received requisite government clearances last year to start its UPI-based payment service in India. Close on the heels of this achievement, the Facebook-owned messenger service plans to provide off sachet health insurance policies to customers across India. 

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