Olacabs launches in-app wallet

If you’re left with loose pocket change and don’t spot an ATM around to pay your cabbie, there’s help on tap.

In a first, Bangalore-based taxi aggregator Olacabs is launching Ola Wallet, a closed loop prepaid wallet that allows customers to pay for their rides without the hassles of managing cash or looking for change. The in-app wallet allows commuters to top up their Ola Money accounts using net banking, credit or debit cards in a secure environment.

“Over 70% of our bookings in Bangalore are done through the app and that number is over 65% nationally. The in-app wallet allows users to recharge a minimum of Rs 100 and a maximum of Rs 5,000,” said Harsha Kumar, head of product in Ola.

Ola’s mobile wallet comes close on the heels of RBI launching a pilot project to allow cash withdrawals from prepaid wallets that could turn out to be a big validation for mobile payments to take off in the country. In fact, prepaid e-wallets could come handy for taxi-hailing app Uber, which ran into regulatory challenges with the RBI, to comply with its requirement for two-factor authentication and complete transactions locally.

Ola, founded in Jan 2011 by IIT Bombay alumni Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, has a network of 24,000 cabs across 15 cities offering point-to-point and rental booking services for customers. It has raised Rs 250 crore in fresh funds valuing the three-year old taxi service startup at over Rs 1,000 crore.

In Bangalore, Ola operates over 4,000 cabs with bookings showing a 30% month-on-month increase. The cab aggregator launched a pan-India pilot to test customers’ appetite for mobile wallets and 30%-35% of regular commuters opted to pay for their rides from their e-wallets.

“We found customers recharging from anywhere between Rs 800-1500 using the e-wallet,” she said. As a promotional offer, Ola is offering a 100% cashback on first time recharge on the wallet till October 31. Ola has also has upgraded its Android, iOS and Windows app with added features like ride tracking features, fare and time estimator with improved location search. The Indian cab market estimated to be $8 billion market is expected to grow significantly with VCs like Tiger Global and Accel Partners pumping in up top dollars for transportation startups that uses technology to disrupt the traditional taxi services business.

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