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Uber could leave Cancun if cash payments are banned

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Uber’s home page in Cancun.

Cancun, Q. Roo — Uber is threatening to leave this growing resort market if proposed rules governing the ride-hailing service go through.

Legislators in Quintana Roo are considering a proposal that would bar drivers in Cancun from accepting cash and set tough standards for cars used for trips.

Drivers carrying cash are robbery targets, proponents of the state’s regulations point out.

Federico Ranero, general manager for Uber in Mexico, said the law would have grave implications in a place where 40 percent of trips are cash transactions.

“This regulation, if it is passed as it is, would so limit the service and so drastically affect the experience of our users and driver-partners that Uber would feel obligated to suspend its operations in the state of Quintana Roo,” Ranero said in a Reuters interview.

Fernando Zelaya, president of the state legislature’s transportation commission and one of the lawmakers who presented the initiative, could not be reached for comment. But his staff said legislators could discuss it as soon as this week.

Last month, Puebla’s government approved new rules aimed at stricter vetting and monitoring of ride-share drivers working for companies like Uber and Cabify after the recent murders of two female college students.

The issue is debated across Latin America. Senators in Brazil scrapped parts of a bill in October that would have treated ride-hailing companies like typical taxis after a lobbying effort by Uber that included a trip there by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

By specifying the value and age of drivers’ cars, the regulation in Quintana Roo is among the more onerous in Mexico, said Carlos Martinez, who heads the Center for Citizens and Consumers.

“You have here a clear barrier to entry in the market,” he said.

Cash payments are a thorny issue in a market where many consumers don’t have credit cards. After a wave of attacks on drivers in Brazil, Uber began using social security numbers to verify the identity of riders who pay with cash.

In Mexico, Uber has been authenticating such cash customers through their Facebook profiles.

Ranero, the Uber manager, warned that tourism in Cancun could take a hit if the company leaves.

“The tourists trust Uber,” he said.

Source: Reuters


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