Dara Khosrowshahi has been appointed as the new CEO of Uber, which has been without a CEO since the resignation of Travis Kalanick in June 2017. Would this result in Uber’s stance on accepting Bitcoin changing?
An early Bitcoin advocate
Dara Khosrowshahi, who became the CEO of Expedia in 2005, is seen to be an inspired choice for the job of Uber CEO.
He built Expedia into one of the world’s leading travel and technology companies.
Expedia had announced that it would accept Bitcoin as a means of payment in 2014, which made it one of the earliest companies to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment.
In 2014, Bitcoin was yet to become an established means of payment. The Mt.Gox fueled bubble of 2013 and the subsequent crash had made companies wary of Bitcoin.
While it was possible to book air tickets using niche Bitcoin players like CheapAir and BTC trip, mainstream companies largely ignored Bitcoin. Expedia though took a brave decision to accept Bitcoins and other companies ranging from Dell to Rakuten joined the bandwagon.
Bitcoin enthusiasts have always felt that Uber and Bitcoin had a natural fit and it was strange that Uber was resisting the adoption of Bitcoin as a payment method.
Uber was started in 2009 (a year after Bitcoin was created) and has grown to become a global behemoth. Uber operates in multiple geographies and is dependent on credit card processors for a majority of its payments.
If you use your credit card while traveling in Uber in a foreign country, you will incur a host of charges including charges for international usage, currency mark up, etc.
If Bitcoin were accepted, all these could be avoided.
Uber not new to Bitcoin
While Uber does not directly accept Bitcoin in its ride hailing app, users have been able to use payment processors like Coinbase to pay for rides using Bitcoin in the past.
Uber had also switched to accepting Bitcoin (through Xapo and other debit cards) in Argentina after the government decided to ban the app and asked local credit card processors not to service it.
There have been periodic rumors in the past about Uber planning to accept Bitcoin, but the company has been quick to squash them.
Adding Bitcoin as a payment option would not result in significant addition of new customers to Uber, given that Uber already has significant penetration in its existing markets.
It would only be a symbolic gesture to indicate support to the crypto community and to keep payment processors on their toes.
Dara has far bigger problems to worry about at Uber, more particularly allegations of a culture which supported gender discrimination and sexual harassment.