Ride-hailing platform Uber signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to explore integration in a bid to expand its mobility offerings. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi termed India as “one of the toughest markets” as Indian customers are more demanding and less willing to pay.

Khosrowshahi on his visit to India, was speaking with Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Infosys on a fireside chat in Bengaluru. When asked what is exciting about Uber in India, he whimsically said, “India is one of the toughest markets out there. Indian customer is so demanding and don’t want to pay for anything.”

“India is the gateway to the world for us. This is the toughest market to succeed in. When we succeed in here that sets the standard for us to succeed in so many other markets,” he further said.

Shift to affordability

Initially rooted in providing luxury car rides, the company now sees significant potential in catering to lower-cost products such as three-wheelers and two-wheelers. This shift towards affordability is a major focus for Uber, aiming to serve smaller distances efficiently.

The emphasis on low-cost options not only presents a substantial business opportunity but also aligns with the goal of making Uber accessible to a broader segment of the population, moving away from being perceived solely as an upper-middle-class product, Khosrowshahi noted.

The CEO also talked about the tough times faced by the company during Covid and the eventual bounce back. He underscored that while the company was making a $3-million burn, difficult decisions to lay-off employees had to be made.

MoU with ONDC

Uber’s MoU with ONDC is to explore an integration with the network to expand the range of mobility offerings on the Uber app. The agreement with ONDC, stands to strengthen Uber’s mission of bringing safe, affordable and reliable rides to all Indians, the company said.

Prabhjeet Singh, President, Uber India and South Asia, said, “Our vision for Uber in India is to serve the mobility needs of all Indians. This is in line with ONDC’s objective of democratising digital commerce. We are excited to take our first step through this MoU with ONDC to explore how we can accelerate our ambition to make Uber a platform for every Indian’s daily mobility needs.”