Can Zhao

Uber Cafi


Uber CaFi

Uber CaFi is a service redesign that extends Uber service to the users who don't have any data plan or credit card by connecting them with Uber sponsored local businesses.



Timeline: 5 days (Prototyping Challenge)
My Role: Interaction design, Digital Mockup, Video
Tools: Sketch, Invision, Premiere


Can Zhao
Xinbei Hu


Design Challenge

How might we extend Uber’s services to low-income individuals who have limited access to internet and restricted payment options?


Problem Setting


In this challenge, we are asked to 1) imagine we work for a "sharing economy" company focused on transportation (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Lime Bikes, Ofo); 2) identify an unmet need of low-income and transportation-scarce population. Our task is to redesign parts of the service to meet these needs, create a prototype of proposed solution, and make a video to articulate the solution. 

In our secondary research, we learn that smartphones have become an increasingly important telecommunication tool for low-income communities who cannot afford computers (DeRenzi 2011, McInnes 2013).


Low-income Households with Smart Phones

Statistics show that only 48.8% of low-income households have internet on their smartphones due to its high cost (File 2014) (Pressman 2017)

payment-method (1).png

Cash is the preferred payment method for small-value transactions for people in general and especially low-income individuals who may not have a bank account (2015 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, Matheny 2016)


With little to no access to internet or wifi on their smartphones and no credit card ownership, low-income individuals are often unable to participate in ridesharing services such as Uber. This leads to a lack of upward social mobility and social isolation (Dillahunt 2017). Our design solution aims to tackle these core issues head-on. For our report and citations, see here.



How it Works

                                            Uber Customer's screens

                                            Uber Customer's screens


Find a Uber-sponsored Business

A Uber customer can still uber without any Internet access: simply find the nearby sponsored businesses that provide Wifi that only allows the user to Uber.

In this scenario, the user sees "Cafe Simmer" and chooses to connect.

                                            Uber Customer's screens

                                            Uber Customer's screens


Choose to Pay with Cash (Optional)

After the user connects to the sponsored Wifi, they open Uber app on their phone. They type out the desired destination address and see paying with cash as an available option now. If the user wishes to pay with credit card, the next step is just to wait for Uber outside the business they connected to. 

In this scenario, the user types "seattle center," sees a price, and chooses to pay with cash. The user then receives a confirmation code after clicking to confirm. The user is notified to provide the confirmation code to "Cafe Simmer." Now the user enters Cafe Simmer.

                                            Business Owner's screens

                                            Business Owner's screens


Provide the Confirmation Code and Pay

The business owner sees the requested amount of money from their end. After the Uber customer provides the confirmation code and pays the fee, the business owner puts in the confirmation code and rates the user.

In this scenario, the business owner asks the customer's name, clicks her name on the phone, and enters the confirmation code. After collecting $9.5, the owner clicks confirm and see that Uber charges $9.5 from her credit card. 

                                            Uber Customer's screens

                                            Uber Customer's screens


Be Ready Outside the Business

After the business owner confirms, the customer can then see the fare is paid and a designated Uber driver is coming to Cafe Simmer. 

The user walks outside Cafe Simmer and wait for the Uber driver. No more confusion for drivers and customer to find each other because of imprecise GPS locating. 


Business Owners Receive Commissions

Business owners receive 3% commissions from Uber by every transaction. More importantly, business owners get more attention from the public by providing this service.

In this scenario, the owner checks the transactions after closing the cafe.


Complete Screens Overview


Never Assume Attributes of Your Users


In this challenge, we first assumed that low-income populations could not afford smart phones and were considering texting to call Uber. However, after conducting more research about our research population and the use of smart phones,  we realize a second-hand smart phone is much more affordable than a consistent data plan that covers internet data and texts

act out the user flows in reality as a way to empathize with users


Since we were only given 5 days to finish the design challenge, we did not have time to research thoroughly about about the second group of target users, the business owners. If we were given more time, we would have researched the business models and behavior models of small business owners.
Given the limited time, I role-played the small business owners and tried to understand the pains and joys of a business owner. I wrote the scripts of the  user flow and asked my team to act out the user flow as shown in the video. By shooting and editing the video together, we had a deeper understanding of the target users.