Uber, the smartphone app that lets consumers hail a cab or schedule a car service, now includes the ability to pay for rides using Google Wallet.
The Google Wallet integration is limited to the Android version of the Uber app for users in the U.S., the smartphone app developer wrote in a May 15 blog post. To use the feature, consumers will log into their Google account before requesting a ride. When the trip is over, the user can then pay the fare by tapping a Google Wallet icon on the payment screen.
The e-hail app integration comes at the same time that Google integrated its digital wallet with Gmail, allowing users to send free payments from bank accounts via email, as well as developed a new checkout button on Android devices, enabling one-click purchases from the handsets.
The Uber app is available in 27 cities across nine countries in North America, Europe and Asia and was the first e-hail app approved for use in a pilot program of the technology in New York City. But the initiative has had a rocky start, after trade groups representing the city's livery cab drivers sued to stop it.
After a judge dismissed the lawsuit in April, the 12-month pilot program was set to begin, with Uber and Hailo getting their respective e-hail apps approved for use by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. But one week later, the initiative was on hold again, after a state appellate judge granted a motion to halt the program until a full panel of appeals court judges decides the livery car groups’ motion for an injunction.
Critics of the pilot program claim it disrupts the balance of power in New York City’s for-hire car industry, where licensed black town car drivers are exclusively allowed to serve prearranged rides and yellow cab drivers are only allowed to accept street hails.
The slow start to the e-hail initiative is the latest in a series of challenges to injecting mobile technology into New York’s iconic cab industry. Square embarked on a short-lived pilot to put its mobile card reader in cabs in late 2012, while Uber’s attempts to crack to Big Apple cab market ran afoul of TLC regulations at the time.