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This article was first published 9 years ago  » Business » Meru to check drivers' Aadhaar every time you book a ride

Meru to check drivers' Aadhaar every time you book a ride

By Digbijay Mishra
December 14, 2014 10:56 IST
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Radio taxi service provider Meru Cabs is planning to put in place the next level of driver verification, one liked to biometric identification tool Aadhaar. 

This follows the alleged rape of a woman passenger who had booked a cab through the Uber mobile app, by the driver, and the subsequent ban of all app-based taxi services across states.

In introducing Aadhaar-linked verification, Meru might get the first-mover advantage in the absence of app-based services Uber, Ola Cabs and TaxiForSure. 

However, other radio taxi companies are likely to join the bandwagon soon. For the plan to be put in place, all cabs will require a biometric system to verify the identity of drivers. 

In fact, Meru, the India Value Fund Advisors-controlled taxi service provider, has completed a trial run of the Aadhaar-linked verification process, with help from Sanjay Jain, a key architect of the Aadhaar card. Jain is also on the board of Meru Cabs, run by Meru Cab Company. 

Siddhartha Pahwa, chief executive of Meru Cabs, told Business Standard the move was aimed at assuring travellers that safety and a quality ride were the company’s priorities.

The company was scheduled to unveil the technology in March next year, but it has now been decided to do it sooner, following the sector coming under attack for lapses in the background check of drivers. 

Recently, Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley billionaire, had suggested Aadhaar and police verification of cab drivers be combined to ensure stronger security measures. The Centre, too, has been actively advocating the use of Aadhaar for driver verification. 

“Aadhaar-linked security is the next level for paramount security. The driver will not be able to start a journey without punching his Aadhaar details. If the data don’t match ours, we will immediately swing into action and the driver won’t be able to start the journey,” Pahwa said. 

"What has happened (the recent alleged rape) is very unfortunate and justice should be given to the victim without delay, but this business is not just about technology; there is a lot of involvement with people. While background checks will have to be meticulous, all stakeholders will have to discuss and iron out existing issues," Pahwa said. The debate, he added, shouldn't be about radio taxis, app-based services, etc, but about safety of the people. 

Meru Cabs has a fleet of about 10,000 cars, half of which are owned by the company. Pahwa says largely, drivers in major cities are migrants and, therefore, some of them could take long to absorb exposure to a new lifestyle. 

“So, we had a session with about 15,000 drivers, including those who were not working with Meru, to educate them. This is a service industry and integrity is crucial," he said. 

Global investors see potential in the radio taxi market, with several cab companies raising substantial funds of late, including Uber (globally) and Ola (in India). Ola raised $280 million in four rounds of funding, including from Japan's SoftBank, also an investor in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. 

India's taxi service market comprises 600,000 cabs and has annual revenue of about Rs 11,000 crore. According to Valoriser Consultants, the sector has been growing 20 per cent a year.


  • Meru Cabs plans to launch Aadhaar-linked security check soon
  • It will be the first company to do so, amid rising concern over the safety of passengers
  • The move will help the company, with a fleet of about 10,000 cars to corner market share
  • Sanjay Jain, key architect of the Aadhaar card and a member of the Meru board, contributed to this technology
  • If biometric details of the driver don’t match with those registered, he won’t be able to start the journey
  • India's current taxi market comprises 600,000 cabs and accounts for annual revenue of about Rs 11,000 crore
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Digbijay Mishra in New Delhi
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