In order to ensure safety to its passengers Uber has announced that it has partnered with First Advantage for driver screening. “This is an important step in building out an industry first background check process for every one of the thousands of driver-partners on the Uber platform in India,” said Uber in a blogpost.
The step has been taken after the alleged rape of the women passenger by the Uber driver.
Deval Delivala, newly appointed India Safety Lead at Uber said, “Along with the ongoing, comprehensive re-verification process to ensure Uber’s driver partners’ police clearance and verifications; First Advantage will bring additional layers of screening including address verification, a local criminal court search, and a national criminal database search.”
Delivala added that the whole process will take a few weeks to complete depending on where the drivers are based out of. Uber claims to set up a dedicated local team of specially-trained safety experts to detect fraud, verify and authenticate driver / vehicle documents.
In December, Uber’s newly hired head of global safety Phil Cardenas admitted that in many places outside the US, the infrastructure and complexity of background checks varied significantly. “We are exploring new ways to screen drivers globally, using scientific analysis and technology to find solutions.”
First Advantage is a global leader in background screening that has worked with about 45,000 organizations worldwide processing over 23Mn screens annually, according to its website.
After the new taxi regulations and the alleged rape, most of the taxi companies like Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure have taken hostile steps to ensure customer safety. These aggregators have been asked to follow the new norms like installing a double layer of GPS security tracking, panic buttons to third party background verifications and collaborative databases to ensure each and every driver on the road is verified and safe.
The Indian taxi market is pegged between $6 Bn (INR 36,000 Cr) and $9 Bn (INR 54,000 Cr), of which only 4-6 % is organized. The major aggregators in Indian market are Ola, Taxiforsure and Uber to name a few.
Another taxi aggregator Ola in January said that it is investing more than $20 Mn in passenger safety related efforts and has tied up with background verification agency Authbridge to vet its driver partners.
Uber raised a whopping $1.2 bn at an astonishing $18bn valuation in September 2014, which makes it not just one of the fastest-growing but also the largest startup in the mobile era.