Selected Uber riders can pay in cash here

From today, selected Uber customers can pay their fares in cash, under a pilot that makes Singapore the first developed city in the world to do so.

This is a departure from the private car hire service's cashless payment policy here.

The trial will involve a "large proportion of new and existing customers", said the San Francisco-based firm, but it did not reveal how many.

While the global start-up accepts cash in about 40 of more than 400 cities it operates in, it said the Republic is "the first developed city in the world to experiment with cash payments".

Observers noted that Uber's latest move ups the ante in the competition with rival transport app Grab for drivers and customers.

Grab offers its customers both cash and cashless options, such as credit card, for its taxi bookings and for-hire chauffeur service, called GrabCar.

Uber Singapore's general manager Warren Tseng said: "Currently, cash transactions make up over 30 per cent of all transactions on the island-state, so introducing cash payments as an alternative option for Singaporeans makes sense."

But it is not only passengers who benefit. Mr Tseng said cash is also useful for drivers to help with day-to-day expenses like petrol.

On Sunday, Uber informed drivers of when and how much to collect from cash-paying customers. Fares paid by cash are to be rounded down to the nearest 10 cents, and only the fare amount calculated by the app is to be collected, Uber said in a training video.

Though Uber has touted cashless payment as a selling point for its convenience - allowing passengers to hop off the car at the destination - its latest move is seen as a way to win over more passengers and drivers to its platform.

Private car hire drivers who operate for both Uber and Grab platforms said between 60 and 70 per cent of GrabCar's customers pay by cash as they hail from a more blue-collar background, and do not own credit cards.

Asked about the proportion of cash transactions it receives, Grab would say only that its "numbers do show that people still prefer cash".

Uber and GrabCar driver Chin T. T., 35, said: "Some passengers tell me they do not want to upload their credit card details for security reasons, for example, if the servers are hacked."

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