Uber looking for Dutch payments licence
It’s a drive to diversification as Uber is applying to the Netherlands’ central bank for an e-money licence, according to Sky News.
The licence will enable Uber to streamline its payment processes across businesses such as its ride-hailing app and its UberEats food delivery venture.
Sources told Sky News that the attempt to become classified as an electronic money institution was being handled by a new subsidiary called Uber Payments.
The tech giant is certainly in search mode as it is also looking for a non-executive director to serve on the board of the new unit. The supervisory board will consist of two members.
In a statement issued to Sky News, an Uber spokesperson confirms: “We have submitted an application for an e-money licence in the Netherlands, where Uber’s international headquarters is based.”
The spokesperson adds that the licence will enable it to “support the continued innovation and growth of our business in Europe by streamlining our payment processes”.
As you probably know, Uber hasn’t had a lot of love in the UK. It is fighting hard to get its licence back to operate in London. An appeal hearing is scheduled in June.
It lost the permit, pending an appeal, after Transport for London (TfL) said it was “not fit and proper” amid concerns over issues including the way it reported criminal offences involving its drivers.
Uber has around 40,000 drivers in London, and is used by about 3.5 million customers, but Sky News reminds us that its rise has “sparked the most significant backlash to date against a major champion of the ‘gig economy’”.
Such problems are not confined to London, as Uber has been hampered by regulatory objections in other major cities around the world.
All these issues are something Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will have to overcome. He has also indicated that a stock market flotation is probable within the next 18 months. And when (or if) that happens, he’ll be looking for a nice premium value.
In a separate and recent deal, Uber is officially exiting Southeast Asia with the sale of its regional business to its primary competitor, Grab.
Financial details were not disclosed, but as part of the deal, Uber will get a 27.5% stake in the company. Khosrowshahi will also be joining Grab’s board.
Grab is backed by SoftBank and former Uber competitor Didi. Grab will also get 500 Uber employees across the region, according to Khosrowshahi.
By the way, last year, Uber suffered a setback (another one) as European court of justice’s advocate general Maciej Szpunar said it provides a transport service, rather than a digital service. Uber was arguing for the latter.
Szpunar said: “The Uber electronic platform, whilst innovative, falls within the field of transport. Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licences and authorisations under national law.”
The advocate general’s opinion was non-binding, but the court’s judges (as with most cases) followed it.
This means Uber will continue to be regulated by individual member states across Europe as a transport company.