India’s Ola is taking its rivalry with Uber beyond taxis after it made its in-app payment service available within a range of other apps and services.
‘Ola Money’, the name for the wallet service where customers keep a float to pay for their rides (Indian mandated taxi apps to switch to wallet-based systems last year), can now be used to make purchases within eye glass etailer Lenskart, budget hotel network OYO Rooms, music streaming service Saavn, hyperlocal marketplace Zopper, and others. That’s thanks to a partnership with Zipcash, a digital money company that provides the necessary regulatory compliance for money transfers and payments.
Ola said the idea is to make its wallet app a more convenient and useful service for its customers, particularly since it has already ventured into services verticals beyond just taxis.
“We already offer cabs, food delivery and groceries services,” Rushil Goel, Head of Ola Money, told TechCrunch in an interview. “Over half of these transactions are [paid for] via Ola Money, so the idea is to enable more use cases for those customers, in terms of being able to use other merchants and not just our services.”
Goel confirmed that Ola is looking to extend the scope of Ola Money, which it claims has over 20 million registered users, to “other services with lots of transactions on a high frequency basis.”
How does this relate to Ola’s ongoing battle with Uber, which lest we forget recently pledged to invest a billion dollars in its operations in India?
The Ola Money extension — which the company said will also serve up discounts with third-party partners — is the second customer loyalty extension that Ola has introduced this past week. Last week, it unveiled Ola Select, a program that grants its most active users a range of perks that include in-car WiFi, and now Ola money is allowing the service’s most active users to benefit from more consolidated payment options.
Uber itself teamed up with Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, to integrate its payment service into its app — which already includes a Paytm-powered mobile wallet — so both companies are looking at making the process of paying more seamless. That said, cash is still a popular way to cover a fare in India. Ola has long offered that payment option, while Uber — playing catch-up — is trialling cash payments in five cities in India, as well as overseas in Kenya and Vietnam.