APP-BASED transportation service Uber announced yesterday that it is introducing its cash payment option to all riders in Cebu to attract more commuters to try out the service.

Cebu, according to Uber Philippines general manager Laurence Cua, is the first city in the Philippines to offer convenient cash payments to all riders.

The company began testing the cash payments in Cebu last December to a limited group of test riders and drivers to better understand local payment preferences. Interestingly, Cua said there is a huge market in Cebu that prefers paying cash rather than through credit or debit cards, which were Uber’s initial payment methods.

“We know that more and more riders in Cebu are choosing Uber because of its safe, affordable, and convenient rides. We hope the introduction of new payment options, like cash, will give riders more choices to enjoy and pay for their Uber rides,” said Cua.

UberX is the primary service available in Cebu. It is the low-cost service of Uber that can accommodate up to four passengers per trip.

Uber’s long term goal for the Philippines is to help solve the country’s biggest challenge in the cities, which is road congestion. Cua said by enticing private car owners to lessen the use of their cars and take Uber instead would at least decrease the country’s worsening problem on traffic congestion.

Some 300,000 new vehicles have hit the road last year, according to Cua.

“By offering Uber, we would be able to help people reconsider the option of buying a car,” he said.

Motored vehicles registered in Land Transportation Office 7 in 2014 already reached 681,033, growing at an average of four to five percent percent year on year, according to EJ dela Vega, operations and logistics manager of Uber PH.

He predicts car ownership to further rise with the expansion of the middle class as a result of the growing local economy.

Uber, which was founded in 2009 in Silicon Valley, entered the Philippine market last year in Manila. Cua said the market’s response was overwhelming that based on their studies, some 70 percent of Uber riders in Manila are car owners. Uber has already penetrated 16 cities in Manila.

In Cebu, Uber is servicing as far as Consolacion in the north and Talisay City in the south.

Cua said Cebu has about 300 Uber accreditations pending before the Land Transportation and Franchise Regulatory Board 7 while over a thousand private car owners have signified interest in joining the Cebu Uber network.

A drop-off heatmap provided by Uber shows an increasing number of Cebuano riders using Uber to reach destinations like the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, shopping centers like SM City Cebu and Ayala Center Cebu, and tourist attractions like Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore del Sto, Niño and Fort San Pedro.

Starting today, Uber is giving first-time Cebuano riders 50 percent off on their first five rides until July 17. Users who want to avail of the promotion can enter the promo code CelebrateCebu upon signing up.