FreeCharge Chat-N-Pay Brings Digital Convenience to India’s Most Basic Transportation
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 www.freecharge.in.