Uber has been no friend of authorities since its launch. The ride-sharing company has always billed itself as a technology or information company, not a Taxi firm, in order to bypass regulations regarding commercial driver licensing. But according to a report from German language publication Wirtschafts Woche, this will soon be changing.
According to the report, Uber will be providing its drivers in Europe with commercial driver licenses and will be going through the proper steps to license itself as a taxi and chauffeur service.
“We will also pay the €150 to €200 it would cost our partners to have the Chamber of Commerce license them as taxi companies,” Fabien Nestmann, Uber’s chief in Germany is quoted as saying.
It’s not clear if the costs will be passed on to riders.
Uber’s new strategy
For a company of its valuation (which is said to be near $40 billion), Uber’s compliance with local laws regarding taxis and chauffeur services is practically non-existent. One would be hard-pressed to find a company of similar, or any size, that takes the same approach with regulators. Uber’s libertarian approach to ride sharing and taxi services has its fans, but will ultimately fall on deaf ears with authorities. Though the law may be imperfect, Uber needs to comply with it — it can then lobby lawmakers to perfect it.
No doubt Uber is under pressure from its investors to become compliant with local laws. Investors don’t want to see their $40 billion company become outlawed in major markets around the world, and Uber’s lack of compliance is hindering it from raising its next $40 billion.
While the company will ultimately lose face given its disruptive nature, throughout the year it’s expected that it will take steps to be compliant in the markets where it operates around the world. Uber drivers — the little guys — are the ones that are under the most pressure. They are the ones given the tickets for operating an unlawful taxi service. If Uber wants to keep its personnel and hire new ones it will have to take steps to work with authorities to become compliant.