Uber PH launches new safety feature

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Cua (left) is joined by Lizada, Adrian Fajardo, who represents the Drug Enforcement Agency, and Officer Mauricio Bariguez of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group.

After the recent spate of attacks on drivers of transport network vehicle services (TNVS), ride-hailing service Uber introduced yesterday another safety feature for its riders paying in cash.

Uber explained that its Rider Identification safety feature would activate once the rider selects cash as payment option.

“Rider Identification is a verification method when no credit or debit card is available. The variables that are verified are the number of friends, verified profile and phone number to ensure fake profiles were not being used,” explained Laurence Cua, GM of Uber agent.

Cua reminded that Uber will only use the link to Facebook to verify a user and check for a legitimate Facebook profile. “Uber will never post on Facebook on a user’s behalf.”

First in Asia Pacific

Cua added that the Philippines will be the first to implement the Rider Identification feature in Uber’s Asia Pacific market.

A similar feature was successfully implemented in South Africa as well as in several Latin American countries where Uber is also present.

Cua said that during their past meetings with driver-partners, concern regarding the safety of cash trips was raised, although many still do not want to remove the cash option altogether, a reason why Rider Identification was implemented here.

Aileen Lizada, board member and spokesperson of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, lauded the announcement as this would supplement the proposed common database of transportation network companies’ (TNCs) blacklisted passengers to help deter carjacking and other crimes involving TNVS.

Lizada added that these initiatives would hopefully prevent cases like the one that happened to Grab driver-partner Gerardo Amolato Maquidato Jr., who was found dead along Bonanza Street in Pasay City on Oct. 26.

It was later found that the suspect used his live-in partner’s cellphone to book a ride.

Social networking capital

“Why the Philippines? A study released by Universal McCann entitled Power To The People-Wave3 declared the Philippines as “the social networking capital of the world,” with 83 percent of Filipinos surveyed being members of a social network,” said Cua.

Rider Identification will initially be limited to new sign-ups, with the potential to expand to Uber’s existing cash user base.

Included in this feature is the ability for the Uber driver-partners to choose whether they’d like to accept a cash trip request or not.

Should the driver decline a cash trip, this decision will not affect their standing with Uber.

Cua

The Rider Identification feature follows the implementation of several safety features that Uber, for the past years, have implemented for its drivers including the Share My Trip feature that provides Uber drivers with the opportunity to share a trip with a loved one, the same way riders do.

“In the past years, Uber has added the ability for drivers to share their location from within the app with friends and family, which riders can already do when on a trip. However, to protect rider privacy, the driver Share My Trip will not reveal the passenger’s pick-up or drop-off location,” clarified Cua.

He added that Uber drivers who feel insecure in a certain area or time of day are now feeling more secured.

Other steps Uber implemented in the Philippines include conducting regular safety seminars, partnering with Lifeline’s Emergency Services to provide quick medical response to Uber drivers in need, and Uber support hotline (hours now extended).



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