FreeCharge Chat-N-Pay Brings Digital Convenience to India’s Most Basic Transportation

Tandon Freecharge Sudeep Sept 9 2016 Blog Post

FreeCharge Chat-N-Pay Brings Digital Convenience to India’s Most Basic Transportation

  September 30, 2016

It’s easy to see how quickly app-based rideshare services revolutionized urban transit in the United States. FreeCharge has taken that model a step further, bringing innovative mobile services to India’s most popular form of low-cost local transportation: motorized rickshaw taxis.

As low-cost smartphones have come to dominate the Indian market, FreeCharge has been a pioneer in deployment of mobile e-commerce applications in a national economy where 98 percent of consumer transactions have traditionally been cash-based. Originally a Tandon Group portfolio startup before being acquired by Snapdeal in 2015, FreeCharge currently serves an estimated 80 percent of India’s $119 billion domestic e-commerce market. These consumers increasingly rely upon FreeCharge for convenient mobile bill-paying and for other day-to-day expenses.

After FreeCharge’s initial success, the next challenge became clear: How can this modern innovation extend deeper into the Indian economy–such as the simple point-to-point services performed by rickshaw drivers?

FreeCharge’s solution was to adapt Chat-N-Pay to collect rickshaw fares. From an intuitive mobile app, customers can easily complete online payments in as little as five seconds–ensuring speedy service while eliminating fumbling with cash payments and change.

The initial pilot program in India equipped 15,000 “e-rickshaws” in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru with the Chat-N-Pay mobile app. FreeCharge provided each driver with comprehensive training, helped them register for the service as independent merchants, and assisted each in setting-up a digital wallet or other electronic account to collect payments.

Today, FreeCharge is on target to register 100,000 drivers by the end of 2016. The emerging benefits of Chat-N-Pay have already generated significant buzz among Indian media, drawing the attention of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, who attended a personal demonstration by Sudeep Tandon, FreeCharge Chief Business Officer, in Noida this past April.

Later quoted by The Economic Times in July, Tandon outlined the company’s e-rickshaw business plan: “We aim to get 100,000 taxis in the country to go cashless by the end of 2016 by offering a frictionless payment process and help them be part of digital payments ecosystem.”

This landmark Chat-N-Pay innovation has brought welcomed convenience to both the rickshaw drivers and their passengers–while representing a major milestone toward extending the full benefits of the “digital revolution” deeper into India’s diverse service economy. Read more about this Tandon Group success story at

Tandon GroupFreeCharge Chat-N-Pay Brings Digital Convenience to India’s Most Basic Transportation

The Early Origins of Tandon Group’s Manufacturing Excellence

Tandon group factory history 65

The Early Origins of Tandon Group’s Manufacturing Excellence

  August 30, 2016

Before fledging Tandon Magnetics could gain prominence as an exporter of key components IBM would incorporate into their pioneering floppy disk drives, founder M.L.(Manny) Tandon was faced with two significant challenges:

Solving a Workforce Hurdle…via an Unconventional Choice

The first early problem was sustaining stable, dedicated labor. During the mid-1970s, entry–level assembly workers–males in particular–among India’s handful of electronics manufacturers were quick to hop from town to city in search of other career options. After noticing the costs associated with the high turnover–namely constant training of replacements-were gnawing at his bottom line, Manny turned to what at that time was considered a radical solution–avoiding hiring men in favor of a mostly female workforce.

Indian culture frowned upon young unmarried women leaving their households–or even independently taking nearby jobs on their own. But Manny recognized an opportunity to capitalize upon an untapped pool of industrial talent. Besides delivering a strong work ethic and long–term company loyalty, the all–female production floor proved to offer another distinct advantage–superior manual dexterity necessary for high-precision electronics assembly–such as meticulously winding wire around the donut-shaped core of a magnetic bobbin.

1983 Tandon Motors: Floppy Disk, Head Coil Winding

Quality…and Quantity?

While Tandon Magnetics’ female assembly workers consistently delivered top quality results, the next issue soon arose­­how could production output ramp up to meet IBM’s rising demand as he original PC gained popularity around the world?

At a time when industrial automation in India factories was rare, Manny looked at novel alternatives to standard coil wrapping machines of the day­­–sophisticated equipment typically retailing as high as $10,000 apiece. He soon developed a relatively simple solution: adapting a household sewing machine-­­-a pedal­-operated appliance most of his female workers were already quite familiar with. Mounting the sewing machine motor on a wooden block, he added a few enhancements, including an automatic counter to ensure the correct number of windings, as well as attaching a microscope to help the operator precisely wrap the smallest coils. After the handmade prototype proved an instant success, 100 more machines were installed throughout the assembly floor­­–at an estimated cost of about $5 each.

Thanks to lower overhead costs and skilled, efficient manpower­­–or, more exactly, womanpower– Tandon Magnetics would provide IBM with top quality PC components ­­at volumes up to 60,000 units per day–at prices competitors simply couldn’t match.

1985 Tandon Motors: Voice Coils

A Prosperous Legacy

Nearly four decades later, the early success of Tandon Magnetics has evolved into a core specialty at the Tandon Group’s Syrma Technology, providing world class electronics design and manufacturing services to global OEMs. High-­precision equipment based upon those original revamped sewing machine remains a cornerstone of Syrma’s 100,000 square foot state-­of-­the-­art flagship facility in Chennai.

2015 Syrma Technology: RFID coil manufacturing

Tandon GroupThe Early Origins of Tandon Group’s Manufacturing Excellence