Taxi-hailing app Uber is set to lose its London licence at the end of the month after a ruling from regulators at Transport for London (TfL).
However, the US tech firm has said it plans to appeal against the ruling.
That has made it unclear whether Uber will stop being available to its 3.5 million customers in London.
Uber also has more than 40,000 drivers in London, who now face an anxious wait to find out the fate of the company’s licence.
What has Uber done wrong?
TfL has ruled it will not renew Uber’s private hire operator licence after it expires on Saturday 30 September.
The body, which operates London’s public transport network and regulates taxis in the capital, said Uber was “not fit and proper” to hold the licence.
There were potential public safety and security implications from the way the company is run, TfL said.
It pointed to Uber’s approach to: reporting serious criminal offences; obtaining medical certificates; and background checks into drivers.
Uber’s use of secret software – called “Greyball” – which could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app, was also cited by TfL in its decision.
The company rejected TfL’s claims that it endangers public safety and said Greyball had never been used in the UK.
So when might Uber no longer be available in London?
Uber has 21 days to lodge an appeal, and the firm indicated it would do just that.
It said straight after TfL’s decision that it intended to “immediately challenge this in the courts”.
That makes it hard to predict whether Uber will stop operating in London.
TfL says Uber can “continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted”.
How long that might be – whether it would be weeks, months or even longer – is too difficult to say, sources close to the process suggested.
Can Uber’s rivals capitalise?
London’s traditional black cab drivers have fiercely opposed Uber’s presence in London.
And Uber – which was granted a five-year licence in London in 2012 – has proved a big threat to minicab firms too.
TfL’s decision provides a big opportunity for those minicab firms to win back customers, says Joseph Evans, an analyst at Enders Analysis.
“If they fail at appeal and they can’t get a licence to operate in London, obviously it’s a huge opportunity for rivals,” he says.
“Behind the scenes, without many people noticing, minicab firms have rolled out very similar tech at competitive prices,” he adds.
They now offer app booking, quicker pick-up, better transparency on where drivers are, and mobile payments.
Hasn’t Uber hit trouble elsewhere in the world?
Yes. Uber left the Texas city of Austin last year after it lost a referendum requiring strict background checks on its drivers.
The company has since returned after making some changes, and the same could happen in London, predicts BBC North American tech correspondent Dave Lee.
Uber has also run into trouble in Europe, including in Paris and Denmark.
Source: BBC News