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New cash payments won’t compromise drivers’ safety, says Uber

Uber has launched the new cash payment system across five cities.

FILE: Uber says this is not a new system for the service. Picture: Uber.com

JOHANNESBURG - Uber says the introduction of a cash-based payment system will not compromise the security of its drivers and the ride hailing service is confident enough systems are in place to protect users.

Uber has launched the new cash payment system across five cities.

But the launch comes amid tensions with the metered taxi industry, in which Uber drivers have been intimidated and attacked.

Uber's head of safety and trust, David Myers, says safety features like GPS tracking and verification processes will remain the same as the safety of both drivers and customers remains a priority.

"The risk profile of someone who is driving a relatively new vehicle with at least one smart phone in the vehicle when off-trip and two smartphones in the vehicle when on-trip doesn't increase with a low amount of cash."

LISTEN: Uber new cash payment system

Myers says the drivers will also be able to deposit the cash at FNB ATMs if they feel unsafe or they have a large sum.

Uber says this is not a new system for the service and it's not seen an increase in targeted crime in other countries where it's in used.

ATTACKS ON UBER DRIVERS

At the same time, Uber says it doesn't believe a new cash payment system will provoke attacks from metered taxi drivers and is calling for an immediate halt to tensions.

The ride hailing service is trying to resolve the dispute with the metered taxi industry, which has seen intimidation and attacks on Uber drivers.

Last week, an Uber driver was attacked in Sandton but the ride hailing service says it was unrelated to the announcement of the new system.

Uber's Alon Lits says metered taxi drivers also use a cash-based system and he doesn't believe this move will provoke more intimidation.

He says Uber has more than 4,000 drivers in the country and the attacks and intimidation are isolated.

"This is a business decision that was made independent of that, obviously we considered the risks but we don't feel the introduction of cash increases the risk of intimidation in any way."

But Lits says Uber is talking to metered taxi operators to try dispel any misconceptions of.

"We are proactively trying to engage with the metered taxi association and any form of violence or intimidation needs to stop."

He says Uber has worked to involve the operators as partners.