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Uber Invests In South America With $64 Million São Paulo Tech Center For Safety Development

Uber Invests In South America With $64 Million São Paulo Tech Center For Safety Development
Automotive

Catering to its second-largest national customer base, the ridesharing app’s new space will focus on developing technology to increase safety for riders and drivers in Brazil and around the world

Jackie Chiquoine
  • 31 august 2018

By the end of 2018, ride-hailing service Uber will operate a dozen technology development centers around the world. The latest, established in São Paulo, Brazil, is a massive investment in South America’s largest national economy: Uber plans to spend at least $64 million on the center over the next five years. The new Brazil tech center and its 150 specialists will be devoted to developing tools that improve the safety of its platform for both drivers and riders.

Brazil is Uber’s second largest market after the United States, with what company executives claim to be a profitable bottom line. Around half a million drivers serve 20 million users, providing over one billion individual rides in the past four years. Due in part to its large population, Uber provides more rides in São Paulo than in any other city in the world.

Uber’s choice of São Paulo was a strategic one. Beyond its rapid market expansion and existing pool of trained engineers, the center will help Uber serve the unique needs of the region. While ridesharing apps in many developed countries tend to focus largely on the guaranteed security of riders, drivers in emerging markets are often also at risk.

In Latin America, it is important for services like Uber to accept cash, providing an alternative to those without access to credit or debit cards. However, cash payments present challenges, as drivers who accept cash can become targets for attacks. To set off danger to drivers, the app has developed security features that require riders to input the Brazilian equivalent of a social security number, confirming their identity even without a credit card. Uber is also using machine learning to identify and block trips that may be potentially risky, and now allows both riders and drivers to share the car’s exact location with contacts.

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New chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over for founder Travis Kalanick last year, has made safety a public imperative as the brand recovers from past controversy and losing regulatory battles in cities around the world. Though the Sao Paulo center will tackle the immediate concerns of its national user base, its next phase of research is dedicated to improving user safety worldwide.

Uber is also in the process of appealing a ruling in Brazil that has decided drivers are employees, rather than independent contractors. This very public focus on the safety of the company’s drivers could be seen as an acknowledgement of Uber’s liability, building some goodwill among consumers even as the company argues Brazil’s worker-friendly labor laws.

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Overall, the new tech space is intended as a means of taking responsibility for the security and needs of the region’s consumers. If successful, the effort could serve to increase ridership even further, as Uber works to establish itself as the convenient, reliable and, most importantly, safe option for transportation.

Uber

By the end of 2018, ride-hailing service Uber will operate a dozen technology development centers around the world. The latest, established in São Paulo, Brazil, is a massive investment in South America’s largest national economy: Uber plans to spend at least $64 million on the center over the next five years. The new Brazil tech center and its 150 specialists will be devoted to developing tools that improve the safety of its platform for both drivers and riders.

+Automotive
+brazil
+development centers
+Latin America
+loyalty & membership
+machine learning
+post purchase & service
+ridesharing
+ridesharing app
+south america
+Transactions & Payments

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