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Uber’s Latest Perk for Drivers Is a Fancy Savings Management Service

Taxi Drivers Protest Possible Uber Expansion In NYCTaxi Drivers Protest Possible Uber Expansion In NYC
An Uber vehicle in Manhattan on July 20, 2015. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Uber doesn’t recognize its drivers as employees, but it wants to help them save for retirement.

On Wednesday, the ride-hailing company said it is partnering and making available to its drivers a service called Betterment, a so-called “robo-advisor” that uses algorithms to manage customer investments. Though it will first be available to drivers in Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and New Jersey, the companies say they plan to expand it nationally later this year.

“I think part of the mission when I started the company, from Day 1, was to serve as many people as possible,” Betterment CEO Jon Stein told Fortune of his company’s partnership with Uber.

Though Betterment has a service aimed at employers, providing them with a manageable 401(k) plan for employees, this is the first time the company is directly integrating its consumer-facing service into another company’s app. Uber drivers will be able to access Betterment’s service via the driver app.

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To make the service appealing, drivers won’t be charged any fees for the first year. Normally, Betterment charges customers various annual fees depending on their balance. If they have less than $10,000, they are charged 0.35% annually, so long as they make a deposit of at least $100 per month. The fees decrease as their account balance increases.

 

 

It appears that Uber will be paying the fees for that first year—and the company has “committed some resources,” according to Stein. He declined to elaborate further.

With that said, the new perk for drivers raises some questions. For one, Uber is still embroiled in a class action lawsuit over its classification of drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. Uber, as well as rival Lyft and several other “on-demand” services, have resorted to classifying their drivers or couriers as contractors, so as to skirt on the costs of employee benefits and other employers’ responsibilities.

See also: Judge Rejects Settlement in Uber Driver Expenses Case

As of last week, Uber had yet to settle the lawsuit, after a federal judge declined to approve a $100 million settlement proposal, calling it unfair and inadequate.

Moreover, the company has been criticized by drivers for slashing prices—and effectively, their earnings—at the beginning of the year. Though Uber has maintained that it does so seasonally to help boost demand for rides, and that it readjusts prices if the tactic doesn’t work, drivers maintain that their pay has been negatively impacted.

For drivers who say they now have to work more hours in order to make the same amount of money, saving and investing are likely to be challenging, if not nearly impossible.

Asked about that, Stein replied, “I’m not sure how they could be criticized for making an effort to help drivers save.” He added that his company’s service can work with any account balance size and customer income level.

Other perks Uber offers to its drivers include gas discounts and the ability to get paid instantly.