After almost two year-extension, Transport for London has revoked the license for Uber to operate in London. Uber has been in the news a lot recently. Earlier this year there were massive protests in London with Uber drivers demanding better working conditions. Later in the year, Uber was in the news because it decided to dive into fintech, joining the fintech revolution and adopting its application for more convenience for its drivers. Fintech has been taking over the world and all of its industries. Whether you’re using a local convenience store in India, or driving with Uber in the US using their new Uber Pay, or trying to get Norwegian odds betting bonus you’re bound to use at least some sort of Financial technology. Uber introduced Uber pay just recently, the new feature would grant the drivers their pay immediately after the ride was completed and would make the transactions easier for those who sent their Uber money back home to different countries. With these positive changes underway, along with multiple other altercations that uber specifically applied in its London division it came as a surprise when the statements from the regulators came in that the taxi app was not “fit and proper” as a license holder, despite all of these recent changes.
Where the trouble began
According to BBC, Uber initially lost its license in 2017 but was granted a 15-months extension. The initial trouble for uber began when people started bringing up safety concerns and their customer was heaving safety issues with the drivers. After the 15-month extension was up Uber managed to receive a two-month extension in September which expired this Sunday. Since Uber’s license was revoked Director of Licensing, Regulation, and Charging at Transportation London, Helen Chapman has come out to say that they were required to make the decision because safety is their absolute priority. “While we recognize Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.”- said Chapman.
While this is very unfortunate for Uber, the customers will likely find that the lack of taxi drivers will be solved soon enough, with everyone trying to enter into the taxi business that has so far been dominated by Uber.
So far Uber has come out to say that they will appeal this decision, and will be able to continue to operate during that process. The company has called the decision “an extraordinary and wrong”. Regional General manager for Northern & Eastern Europe at Uber spoke with the media and said that the company has actually done more than enough and has fundamentally changed its business over the last two years. Jamie Heywood even continued to say that Uber is setting a standard on safety across the industry. According to him the Transport for London found the company to be” fit and proper” just two months ago so that is why the decision came as a surprise to the executives of the company.
But it’s important to mention that the UK isn’t the only country where uber keeps facing resistance from regulators and traditional taxi services.
The main issue that the customers have faced was with the drivers. According to Transportation for London, in the last few months alone it has been established that 14,000 uber journeys involved fraudulent drivers, who were uploading their photos to other driver accounts. This practice actually poses a threat to passenger’s safety, by allowing them to get into cars with unlicensed and suspended drivers. And this has been the issue with the company for years now.
According to TfL the problem first came up in 2017, when it declined to renew Uber’s license on the grounds of “public safety and security implications”, which mostly referred to Uber’s approach to a background or CRB check and reporting serious criminal offenses. Uber has even been called out for using software that blocks the regulators from monitoring the app, which raised the concerned of TfL even more.
The Future of Uber in London
So right now the fate of Uber in London is unclear. While the executive state that they will continue operating in the city, it’s possible that the citizens after hearing about the security concerns will be hesitant to use Uber. And as the authorities have said there isn’t a shortage of companies trying to enter the taxi market. Event hough Uber claims that they made all the necessary adjustments when it comes to security concerns, The statements by the mayor of London suggests that these changes didn’t deliver the results and failed to ensure the safety of passengers, despite what the executive might say.
Although it is interesting that this decision came soon after the Uber announced its Uber Pay along with the added features aimed at improving the experience of the customer as well as the driver. Seemingly the company really was on track on improving its services and it is surprising that the security issues were so hard to fix for a company that has no problem expanding into different fields and delivering food, renting our scooters and now offering to substitute a bank for its drivers. It seems like Uber might have failed because of the approach of trying to do it all while failing to do the one thing that started it all correctly.