In a move that extends both Uber’s customer reach and WhatsApp’s service offerings in India, the two US tech giants partnered up to launch a new feature, allowing their Indian users to make cab booking through chatting with a dedicated WhatsApp bot, Uber announced in a blog post.
The tie-up, which also marks the first of such an alliance between Uber and Meta globally, will enable Uber to leverage Meta-owned WhatsApp’s massive 500-million user base in India, its largest overseas market. WhatsApp is the most popular messaging service in the South Asian nation.
The handshake will let people book an Uber ride without having to download the company’s app. Riders will be able to register, book rides, and receive receipts within the WhatsApp chat interface.
“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 for Uber APAC, in a media statement.
“Our partnership with WhatsApp does just that, giving riders a new way to get a ride through a simple, familiar, and trusted channel. We are thrilled at this global-first integration for Uber, and look forward to rolling it out across India.”
Uber is piloting the service in Lucknow, a tier 2 city in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which has reportedly been its rival Ola’s turf for the last several years.
“The integration, a global-first for Uber, is rolling out first in Lucknow. We will then introduce it to users in New Delhi, and look forward to going India-wide next year,” Uber said.
Currently available only in English, the service will soon be available in other Indian languages. The company added that riders would get the same safety features and insurance protections as those who book trips through the Uber app.
“The WhatsApp business platform has been an important lever for businesses that want to build a direct connect with their consumers,” said Abhijit Bose, head of WhatsApp India, in the statement. “We are excited about the potential of this partnership and look forward to creating more such customized solutions for products and services across sectors in India.”
The development comes just as WhatsApp opens up its platform for users to order groceries from Reliance’s e-commerce platform JioMart via a new tap and chat option. Meta had inked a partnership with billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned oil-to-retail conglomerate in April 2020 to let JioMart use WhatsApp to roll out its e-commerce services.