Due to the disruption of the pandemic, like with every other thing, Uber's business and the income of tens of thousands of drivers have been affected in different countries; including Bangladesh.
As cities are moving again, emerging from Covid-19, Uber is increasing its efforts to revive the pace with new products and features that suit local market demands best.
"Bangladesh will remain a big market, a growth centre for Uber," said Nandini Maheshwari, business development director of Uber for the APAC region.
She talked to The Business Standard recently in an online interview following Uber's partnership with bKash for a contactless payment solution in its app.
The integration of bKash payment services in Uber app-made transactions is a matter of few taps on a smartphone screen.
"Bangladesh is predominantly a cash-dependent market and in the pandemic situation, the need for cashless transactions is more relevant now," said Maheshwari, who has a long track record in technology and technology-focused investment banking internationally.
"Uber understands its responsibilities in making its platform and services safer. We have been investing in adding technology-enabled features for safety and ease; bKash integration is the latest part of it," she added.
The partnership intends to enable safer experience for riders and drivers, promote contactless transactions and improve the digital infrastructure of the country.
She also said, "bKash has accelerated Digital Bangladesh and the partnership will evolve in multiple ways in the coming days."
Covid-19's fallout and route to recovery
Bangladesh has been one of the fastest growing markets for Uber Moto, the motorcycle ride-sharing service.
Nandini Maheshwari described the market as the poster child for Uber Moto.
After the pandemic, countries across the world went through shutdowns that had temporarily stalled the services, making life tougher for drivers and riders.
Following the reopening, Uber with its responsible approaches and safety features came up to move cities. In Bangladesh, all its mobility services except for Uber Moto are available right now, she said.
Due to restrictions, motorcycle-based ride sharing is yet to restart here in Bangladesh, although a large number of desperate drivers are on the street for off-app trips while demand is also there as commuting through traffic congestion is back.
In Bangladesh, the company is facing another uncommon regulation that requires individual cars be listed with the road transport authority as ones to be used for ride-hailing services.
"We are working with the major stakeholders–drivers, riders and the authorities–on the ground in this regard," said the Uber's regional director for business development.
Till now in Bangladesh, a few thousand of Uber's drivers have listed vehicles, said Nandini Maheshwari.
Of course the number is low, compared to the number of cars used for Uber trips before the regulations were enforced.
"Our main focus is to recover as fast as possible and we are coming up with the suitable products and features–the inputs. The output will depend on the actions of others in this very market," she said.
To meet the growing market demand, Uber has already brought its package delivery service, Uber Connect, to Bangladesh. It now offers work to a number of Uber Moto drivers in the current context.
Its rent-a-car for hours service, Uber Rental, has also been here since July.
A market in focus
Uber now operates in four cities of Bangladesh and has plans to expand geographically with suitable services and features.
"Our aim is to offer complete solutions at different price points as a much-loved brand when people need to move or send their packages to somewhere else within the city," said Nandini Maheshwari.
"When you need to move alone in busy traffic, we have Uber Moto for you. Going for a dinner with family and friends? Get a car. Need to send something to someone else? We have Uber Connect. Also we have Uber Rental if one needs a car for several hours," she said.
Bangladesh, with its market potential, will be in Uber's focus and the company will keep making all its products and features available in this market.
"Uber previously introduced its technology-enabled features for mass detection, trip anomalies and multiple other factors to make sure that we are doing everything in our influence to make things safer; we have already made all of this available for Bangladesh," she said.