Uber Technologies Inc and Meta Platforms Inc’s WhatsApp have rolled out ride-booking via the messenger service in India, a first for the US ride-hailing giant and an expansion of WhatsApp’s capabilities in the country.
The partnership allows access to Uber’s mobility services by sending a message to a WhatsApp chatbot, serving the northern city of Lucknow to start and expanding to more locations in the near future, Uber said in a statement.
It follows closely on the heels of WhatsApp rolling out in-app grocery shopping on JioMart, the digital outlet for Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail empire. The Meta-owned messenger service has more than half a billion users in India, its largest single user base.
“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.
The integration makes Uber’s own app unnecessary: WhatsApp users can register, book rides and receive trip receipts entirely within the chat interface.
Safety features and insurance protections are unchanged between rides booked on Uber or WhatsApp, the companies said.
Driver name, license plate and location en route to pickup will all be included in the WhatsApp booking information. Drivers themselves will notice no difference between rides booked on the different platforms.
Booking a ride via WhatsApp is starting in English only, but will be expanded to other Indian languages soon, Uber said.