Uber is considering offering small loans to its drivers, according to a report from Recode.
The company is said to have sent an in-app message to drivers last week, informing them of its intention to build a new financial project that would help them in times of need, also asking them to complete a survey.
“Have you taken out a small loan (of a dollar amount below 1,000 USD) in the past 3 years?” one of the questions asks.
Another goes: “If Uber provided loans, what amount are you most likely to request?” (The options to answer range in brackets of “Less than $100,” “Between $100 and $250,” “Between $250 and $500,” and “More than $500.”)
Uber has offered financial services in the past, having piloted an interest-free cash advance program for drivers in California and Michigan back in 2016. It also has a co-branded credit card with Visa and an Uber Cash digital wallet for persons who ride Uber vehicles. The company also helps drivers lease vehicles through third-party partnerships.
The venture has been criticized by politicians and drivers alike, given that Uber and competitor Lyft are both spending several million dollars to oppose California legislation that would force companies to pay workers minimum wage and offer them various means of protection.
“Instead of giving drivers’ loans, they should increase our payments,” Mostafa Maklad, an Uber driver in San Francisco, said.
Maklad says he has no plans to pursue a small loan but even if he did, he wouldn't take one with Uber. “I wouldn’t trust a company like Uber,” he added.
The views were pretty much the same among Uber and Lyft drivers who communicate in various forums.
“So...is this supposed to be some payday loan scheme they’re going to operate?” one individual wrote.
“They gotta get profitable some how,” another suggested.
California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales was not thrilled about the development either. Gonzales authorized the AB 5 California bill that would reclassify Uber drivers and other contract workers as employees who receive greater legal employment protections. You could read her tweet below.
Uber wouldn't be the first such company to offer its workers small loans. Other employers, the likes of Walmart, have been offering payroll advances to employees in trying financial situations.
The interest on these loans could range anywhere between six and 36 percent, per the Wall Street Journal. So such offers just aren't viewed as being genuine as there's always profit to be made.
Uber has fo far declined to go on the record with a comment as it relates to all of this.