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More proof that Uber is crucial for corporate America

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Uber was arguably the most embattled brand of 2017, but it’s indisputable that the business world relies heavily on the service.

The ride-hailing app remains the most expensed brand in 2017. Uber accounted for 4.5 million — or 9% — of 50 million receipts processed by expense management company Certify. This represents a 3% increase from last year and 5% more than the second most-expensed brand — Starbucks (SBUX).

Despite the negative press and turmoil, Uber has become synonymous with ride-sharing at large (the company gave 4 billion rides last year compared with Lyft’s 375.5 million rides). Claiming 82% of all ride-hailing receipts, Uber remains the industry leader by far with Lyft coming in a distant second, capturing 18% of the market. However, the latter has been steadily encroaching on Uber’s territory though its footprint is relatively minuscule, operating across the U.S. and Ontario (compared to Uber’s presence in 600 cities across 78 countries). Still, Uber is indispensable in places where Lyft doesn’t exist — local ride-sharing notwithstanding.

Certify processed 50 million receipts in 2017. Uber accounted for 4.5 million, or 9%, of all expense reports.

Ride-hailing has become increasingly popular, making up 68% of the overall ground transportation category last year. Uber and Lyft made up 56% and 12%, respectively, of the total. In 2015, Lyft had 4% marketshare and Uber had the lion’s share with 96% of all expenses in the sector.

“Today, relatively new industries like ride hailing, room sharing, and meals management are maturing quickly as approved corporate suppliers at all levels of business,” said Certify CEO Robert Neveu. Last year, KI Investment Management acquired Certify, Nexonia, ExpenseWatch and Tallie to form the second largest expense management cloud-based software after SAP’s Concur.

Legacy brands still gobbling up marketshare

While Uber has gained significant momentum, other sharing economy startups have not experienced the same explosive surge in popularity.

Alternative accommodations such as Airbnb have nearly doubled each year in the Certify receipts since 2014. Still, this only represents less than 0.5% of the entire lodging category. Currently, 15% of nights booked on Airbnb are for business travel, Airbnb co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nate Blecharczyk told Yahoo Finance. He emphasized that it’s the company’s priority to expand beyond the leisure traveler going forward.

Hampton Inn topped the list of most-expensed hotels, with 8.95% of all receipts. Marriott (MAR), Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express (IHG) and Hilton Garden Inn (HLT) rounded out the top five.

“We see a number of legacy travel providers securing their market position by investing in, and adopting and partnering with best in class technology,” said Neveu.

Starbucks is one example of a traditional brand that has continued to evolve to match consumers’ appetite for speed and ease. During its first-quarter results, the company announced that membership in its rewards program increased 11% year-over-year. Mobile payments also represented 31% of all U.S. transactions, up from 27% a year ago.

After Starbucks, Delta (DAL), Amazon (AMZN) and American Airlines (AAL) were the most-expensed brands overall.

The big losers were taxis and car rental services, which were eclipsed by Uber and Lyft.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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