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Uber adds 2-way number masking to address privacy concerns


Online cab aggregator Uber has introduced a number masking feature in India, after rival Ola introduced it earlier this week, where neither the driver, nor the rider’s number will be displayed when making or receiving a call. The company said that it had tested the technology with hundreds of drivers in cities across India, with plans to roll out throughout the country soon. It did not mention what technology it was using for this initiative.

In June, Uber was in the news for the wrong reasons after a Uber driver allegedly misbehaved with a female passenger in Gurgaon, and apparently tried to kiss her forcibly. The passenger complained to Uber, to which the company replied to say that they had “a zero tolerance policy for this behaviour” and that they were “following up with Vinod (the driver) appropriately, and immediately.”

Since the December 2014 rape incident, Uber has had a turbulent ride in India. The company introduced a number of safety and security features in India which included:

– In February, an SOS panic button, was added to the Uber app, which would alert the local police in case of an emergency.

– Uber tied up with location-based mobile safety app Safetipin to enable Uber drivers to collect area data across Delhi to improve passenger safety.

– Earlier, the company had also introduced an improved ShareMyETA button that allowed passengers to send their complete trip details (including live GPS tracking, driver photo, name and vehicle license number).

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– In May, it upgraded its in-app SOS button to have have closer coordination with local police control rooms in case of an emergency. The company said that on pressing the SOS button, a call would go to local law enforcement generating an alert. This alert would be sent directly to the local police control room.

Earlier this week, the company announced that it would launch its car-pooling product UberPOOL in Bangalore in beta in the coming weeks. UberPOOL currently exists in San Francisco, New York city, Boston, Austin and Paris where it has been around for a few months. In India, Uber currently claims to have 165,000 drivers on its platform and is present in 22 cities. It also claims to have a 40% month on month growth, with a market share of over 40% in the country.

TOF funding
In August, Uber received an injection of funds from Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF) to expand its services and solutions in India, by making use of TOF’s network within the Tata Group and outside of it.

India investment
In July, the company said that it would invest $1 billion in India in the next six to nine months, primarily in improving its operators, expand to other cities, develop new products and payment solutions and set up a better support network. Uber has been ramping up its service in India, its second largest market after the US, with various initiatives to encourage user adoption.

Our Uber coverage here.

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