Uber plans return to financial services with hires “across the board”
Uber has broken its silence on financial services products just five months after it pressed the brakes on finance-related projects in favour of its ride and food delivery businesses.
Johnie Lee, Uber’s engineering lead for financial products, announced on LinkedIn last Thursday that his team was hiring “across the board”.
The new hires will prepare the ride hailing giant for a number of “initiatives” come next year, says Lee.
Uber Money head Peter Hazlehurst left the firm in June, following Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s announcement via email that it would “deprioritize” several of its finance-related projects.
But now, it seems Uber is reigniting its focus on finance, with a particular emphasis on globally scalable financial products and Uber Cash integration.
What the team will work on
Amid the four roles currently open in Lee’s team are a senior product manager, and three software engineers. All are based across San Francisco and Palo Alto.
The job postings have a blanket focus on integrating Uber Cash with the firm’s other services. These include Eats, Rides, Transit, and Uber for Business.
Users in the US can already use Uber Cash to pay for these other Uber services. But it is not yet a service rolled out to all of Uber’s markets.
Specifically, the job listings say the product team will work with Uber’s “Money Platform” to support paying with Uber Cash. The Uber Money team was subsumed under Uber’s vice president of technology, Peeyush Nahar, back in June.
The postings also mention building “consumer Internet products”, “co-branded credit and debit cards which scale across different geographies”, and “cashback reward-based products”.
FinTech Futures approached Uber to understand more around the ride hailing giant’s decision to re-invest in its financial services play.
Team head Lee, a former Google senior software engineer who joined Uber in May 2017, says the firm is “not ready to announce anything yet”.
Uber’s first financial push
Former Uber Money head Hazlehurst began leading Uber’s financial strategy in 2018. He oversaw the firm’s creation of co-branded credit cards, a digital wallet and instant payments for drivers.
At the end of October last year, Uber announced its financial product line Uber Money. The line included services for both consumers and employed drivers.
It relaunched its Barclays-backed credit card, which offered consumers 5% in ‘Uber Cash’ and offered employed drivers ‘Instant Pay’. This meant drivers could receive payment after each ride.
The firm also built an Uber Wallet for drivers and consumers. And for US drivers, their debit account and card already provided through Green Dot was updated. This saw it offer cash back on gas starting at 3% and going up to 6% for ‘Uber Pro’ drivers.
Hazlehurst announced the product play at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas late last year.
The brief pause on its financial services project could be down to COVID-19. A month before its deprioritisation, Uber cut its employee count by 25%.
The firm was under huge pressure to cute inessential projects, with ride volumes dropping roughly 70% at the height of the pandemic.