Uber, a ride-hailing service based in the United States, announced on Thursday that it will roll out a feature that will allow users in India to book rides over the messaging programme WhatsApp. The move might enable Uber to tap into WhatsApp’s more than 500 million users in India, which is controlled by Meta Platforms. “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,” the ride-hailing said in a blog post. The ride-hailing firm has been operating in the Asian country for the past eight years and is now available in 70 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. According to the firm, riders will receive the same safety features and insurance coverage as those who book trips directly through the ride-hailing app. The user would be informed about safety guidelines via WhatsApp, including how to call the ride-hailing company in the event of an emergency. 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, the ride-hailing firm said, adding that Indian languages will be included in the near future.