Uber Making Big Push Into Financial Services

Ride-hailing platform Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) is launching a suite of financial products aimed at making transactions and payments easier for its drivers and riders. The new suite financial products and technologies developed by Uber will collectively be housed under the company’s new Uber Money unit. The unit will be headed by Peter Hazlehurst, described as the company’s head of payments and financial services.

Uber Money will offer a range of financial services, including branded payment cards and a digital wallet. Its new debit card is essentially a no-fee banking account, with the debit card in the U.S. linked to an account provided by Green Dot. Earnings will be deposited in real time after every ride and the account will have no-cost $100 overdraft protection. Uber already offers micro loans to drivers in several countries including Brazil, India, and Peru.

Another new product is a digital wallet called Uber Wallet. Riders and drivers can use the service to store dollars, track their transaction history and make electronic payments. The company says that Apple Pay and Google Pay will be integrated with the service early next year so drivers can immediately spend their earnings even if they do not have a physical debit card.

These payment innovations are meant to expand access to financial services to those without them. “We wanted to help everybody understand that there’s a new part of Uber that’s focused on financial services and that has a mission of giving people access to the type of financial services they were excluded from,” Hazlehurst said. Future products could remove costs related to financial middlemen or generate new revenue streams.

Uber’s new plans could bring digital finance to parts of the world where cash is still widely used. Roughly 40 percent of all Uber trips globally are still paid using paper currency, and Uber is eager to reduce that percentage. One advantage Uber has over other new entrants into the financial services world is its massive scale with its base of 100 million monthly active users and 4 million-plus drivers and couriers.