Uber’s API Affiliate Program Now Pays Developers in Cash

Uber is offering developers a new way to monetize their apps. Under Uber’s API Affiliate Program, developers earn $5 every time a new U.S.-based user is referred from inside an app using Uber’s API. The cash rewards replace Uber’s previous Affiliate Program model of offering developers $5 in Uber credit for each referral. The updated program may bolster the relatively lackluster adoption of the Uber API if additional app developers decide to cash in.
Developers register their app in the Affiliate Program and receive a Client ID for API calls and deep links that will track user referrals. The payouts don’t start right away, however; the new user must actually complete a trip before the developer is credited. Developers are able to withdraw funds once they have accumulated $250 in referral fees. The maximum earning amount for the Affiliate Program is $5,000. Once a developer reaches the $5,000 mark, they must enroll in Uber’s partner program.
Current Uber partners include Microsoft, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, Pebble, Foursquare and United Airlines, giving the average user the ability to book rides to and from coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and airports. The call to additional app developers to expand that field may prove to be a significant threat to competitors like Lyft and Addison Lee, as the terms of use for the Uber API specifically prohibit developers from adding competitive services to applications that utilize the Uber API. Any developer integrating with Uber’s API has tacitly agreed not to work with other ride-servicing programs, effectively locking in Uber’s market share.
The new costs of the Affiliate Program shouldn’t prove too taxing on Uber, given the company’s track record of securing financing. Uber’s 20% commission per ride also means the company can recoup the Affiliate Program cost per user in as little as one or two trips. And the payouts down the line from the expansion of Uber’s customer base are likely to be far more than the Affiliate Program will cost. It’s also probable that not all developers will be able to hit the $250 threshold for withdrawal, meaning Uber won’t necessarily have to pay out for each referral.
Uber continues to dominate the ride-sharing marketplace by offering incentives to its user base through its partners. Adding some incentives on the developer side is a smart play that might just further Uber’s push towards ubiquity. 

Be sure to read the next API Design article: New API Platform Targets Specialized Web and Mobile App Development