Uber is offering a new debit card that will help its drivers get paid instantly

Uber’s new debit card will help drivers get paid instantly—even after one trip.
Uber’s new debit card will help drivers get paid instantly—even after one trip.
Image: (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
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In its battle to attract and retain more drivers, Uber is going to help its on-demand workers get paid, well, on demand.

The ride-hailing giant is partnering with Green Dot’s GoBank to launch a pilot program called “Instant Pay” in San Francisco today. Drivers will be able to apply for an Uber debit card from GoBank, which would give them access to their earnings immediately. So, after completing a fare, Uber drivers can have their earnings sent to their account, with no minimum to cash out or any transaction fees for transfers. Without the account, it can take up to four days for a driver to be paid.

The accounts will carry a monthly fee of $8.95, but GoBank will waive that for drivers who receive direct deposits from Uber at least once every six months.

Quartz reported in November that Uber was exploring providing bank accounts to its drivers through this sort of partnership. At the time, the company said it hoped the program would see 4,000 to 5,000 signups a month across the US.

As the gig economy grows, financial products geared toward on-demand workers are becoming more important. For example, earlier this week, Goldman Sachs acquired Honest Dollar, a small startup that helps gig workers set up retirement accounts.

Attracting more drivers is crucial for Uber as it expands globally and into new areas such as UberEats. And providing perks like bank accounts that waive fees under certain conditions is not only a way to appeal to new workers, but a way to lock them in to the Uber platform. It’s also easy to see a program like Instant Pay expanding to other countries like China and India, where Uber is building out aggressively and the unbanked population is substantial.

“This pilot is just in San Francisco,” Wayne Ting, Uber’s general manager for San Francisco, told Quartz. “But certainly a product like this has an applicability across the world.”

GoBank will allow Uber drivers to set up business checking accounts without a credit check. The Uber debit card can be used for purchases, just like a normal card, which is how GoBank will make money from the deal. Drivers can also use their debit card at more than 42,000 GoBank ATMs across the US, and use their accounts to get paid from other non-Uber jobs—even Lyft. The caveat is that Instant Pay only works with Uber; other incoming payments will take days.

Ting said the goal of the partnership is to help drivers get paid faster, while also keeping account fees and costs to a minimum. Uber drivers typically get paid once a week through direct deposit, but those payments can take up to four days to hit their bank accounts. “We thought we should really try to offer something to instantly get paid after a trip, after an hour, after a day, of driving with Uber,” Ting said.