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Uber to allow users to book rides via WhatsApp in India

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FILE PHOTO: Employee works inside the office of U.S. online cab-hailing company Uber on the outskirts of New Delhi
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BENGALURU (Reuters) - U.S. ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Ltd said on Thursday it would roll out a feature that will allow users in India to book rides via messaging service WhatsApp.

The move could help Uber tap into the more than 500 million user base of Meta Platforms-owned WhatsApp in India.

"Starting this week, we are rolling out a new service that gives people the option to book an Uber ride via an official Uber WhatsApp chatbot," Uber said in a blog post.

Uber has been operating in the Asian country for the past eight years and is now available in 100 cities.

"Riders will no longer need to download or use the Uber app. Everything from user registration, booking a ride, and getting a trip receipt will be managed within the WhatsApp chat interface," Uber added.

WhatsApp users can book a ride through either messaging to Uber's business account number, scanning a barcode, or clicking a link directly to open an Uber WhatsApp chat.

Riders will get the same safety features and insurance protections as those who book trips via the Uber app directly, the company said. The WhatsApp chat flow will inform the user about safety guidelines, including how to contact Uber in case of emergencies.

The feature will initially be launched in Lucknow, the capital of India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh, and then expanded to other locations by next year.

The service will be available in English, Uber said, adding that Indian languages will be included in the near future.

(This story corrects paragraph 4 to say Uber is operational in 100 cities, not 70)

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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