Uber Technologies Inc. is hiring several dozen engineers and product managers for a new “fintech outpost” in New York City, according to a report today.
CNBC, quoting “people who declined to be identified speaking about Uber’s plans” said the office could eventually exceed 100 workers. Uber’s decision to set up a fintech office in NYC is said to be directly related to accessing a deeper talent pool of fintech and bank workers than can found on the West Coast.
Exactly what Uber is planning to offer in terms of new financial services is purely speculative since Uber has not confirmed the hiring. But given previous products and those already provided by global competitors, there are some grounds to make an educated guess.
The starting point for any new expansion by Uber in fintech will be its 93 million active users globally who already have their credit cards linked to the Uber app. With a base in place, Uber will be looking at adding additional products for those users.
One suggestion is that the fintech team will be looking at “payment experiences” that encourage users to user Uber and improve experiences for contractors. That could involve payment for third-party services, extending Uber’s existing wallet into a multifaceted payment services.
There is some precedent in the market. Middle Eastern ride-hailing startup Careem Networks FZ, which Uber announced it was acquiring in March, offers a wallet that includes the ability to purchase points to be used with loyalty partners and peer-to-peer credit transfers.
There’s nothing stopping Uber from heading into mobile point-of-sale payments as well, particularly given that there is not yet a dominant provider in the space in the U.S. despite attempts by banks along with the likes of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The company could aim to become the U.S. WeChat or Alipay, the two services dominating mobile payments in China despite the former being a chat app with payment functions built-in.
Another possibility for Uber is offering bank accounts. According to the CNBC report, the idea has been discussed at high levels within Uber but could be years away presuming it ever gets approval.
The idea there would be to cut out middlemen banks when dealing with contractors, reducing costs as well as having a new product to offer customers. Amazon.com Inc. has been looking into banking since early last year on similar grounds.
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