U.S.-based ride-hailing and transportation company Uber has teamed up with Brazilian MVNE Surf Telecom to launch Uber Chip, the first prepaid mobile telephony plan for Uber’s drivers and delivery partners in Brazil. The MVNO service offers exclusive discounts of up to 60 percent for Uber partners.
The plan includes unlimited WhatsApp, unlimited Waze, 9 GB of 4G/LTE data, unlimited calls to all national fixed and mobile numbers, and 100 SMS per month. The prices for Uber Chip range from BRL 20.00 (US $3.69) to BRL 35.00 (US $6.46) per month, depending on the category in the Uber Pro benefits program (Blue, Gold, Platinum and Diamond).
This is one of the more interesting and relevant MVNO launches we have heard about recently. In general, as we have noted on a number of occasions, virtual offerings are most successful when they are formulated with a particular target demographic in mind and focus fairly tightly on meeting that audience’s specific needs. For Uber to create an MVNO for its own drivers is an inspired move that will likely benefit the company in more than one way.
Drivers—whether of personal transportation vehicles or delivery vehicles—need to be in communication with Uber via its app, and they also need access to smartphone data en route for navigation purposes. Further, they will do a lot of their personal calling and texting while driving for Uber. A mobile service offering from Uber itself will likely find a good reception among Brazilian drivers—first, because it leverages the pre-existing relationship between itself and the drivers; second, because it is inexpensive; and third, because the offering itself is tailored to the task of driving for Uber, as evidenced by the inclusion of unlimited data for navigation app Waze.
If the MVNO takes off, Uber will be making money from its drivers not only through its core services but also through mobile plan fees.