Uber ploughs cash into Brazil technology center

The company commits to multimillion-dollar investment in facility focused on security products.

Uber will make an investment of up to 250 million reais ($63 million) over the next five years in a new Brazil-based technology development center focused on security products.

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The company's first technology development facility in Latin America will be creating tools to support various aspects of the platform, particularly making cash payments safer.

To that end, the center will be focusing on the application of real-time data processing, advanced telematics, machine learning and mobile development, among other technologies.

Security around taking payments in hard cash and the associated exposure of drivers to robberies is a challenge that other sector players - including local ridesharing unicorn 99 - are facing, given the prevalence of that payment method in Brazil.

The company has already been doing some work on increasing the security of the platform, with technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to identify risk to drivers and passengers based on ride data.

Some 150 professionals will be working at the new technology center, which will be located in São Paulo and will be launched at the end of 2018. As well as AI, the company is looking to recruit software engineers, designers and machine learning specialists.

Brazil is considered the world's second largest market for Uber after the US, with more than 500,000 drivers and 20 million registered customers, with 1 billion rides completed over the last four years.