India’s largest cab hailing service Ola on Friday announced its entry into the mobile payments space with the launch of its dedicated mobile app called Ola Money, a move that will put Ola in direct competition with Alipay-backed Paytm and Snapdeal-owned Freecharge.
Ola, promoted by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, has been experimenting with new businesses to match its larger rival Uber Technologies Inc.’s strategy across the world. Uber is already delivering groceries, food and e-commerce products in the US.
The current app will allow users to recharge their mobile phones and send money to friends and family. Ola is trying to create a holistic payments solution and will also introduce utility bill payments across online and offline merchants, according to the company.
“The launch of the Ola Money app is a big step towards simplifying payments for users across a wide range of products and services they use everyday! Ola Money has seen tremendous acceptance over the last three months, since the time we opened it up for third party merchants. We continue to add more merchants and build many more use cases with Ola Money, making it a seamless experience for users. With the app enabling users to do a lot more, including mobile recharges and money transfers, we are excited about the possibilities that Ola Money brings for the millions, who are beginning to prefer an easy to use mobile payment solution,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and chief executive at Ola.
In August, the company had opened Ola Money (powered by ZipCash) for payments on third party merchants including budget hotels aggregators OYO Rooms and Zo Rooms, online music streaming portal Saavn, online eyewear retailer Lenskart, and food ordering app TinyOwl, among others.
In October, Ola together with co-founder Aggarwal acquired a minority stake in ZipCash Card Services Pvt. Ltd, a company with a wallet licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Ola invested close to Rs.3.2 crore for a 3.4% stake in June, while Aggarwal bought a 2.56% stake by investing Rs.1.2 crore in March, Mint reported on 10 October. Ola, which is looking to apply for its own wallet license, has held talks with ZipCash for a potential acquisition.
Founded in 2007, Zipcash offers mobile vouchers, bill payments, mobile top-ups and Direct To Home (DTH) television recharge services and has partnerships with the likes of eBay and BookMyShow, among others. Mumbai-based Zipcash has been struggling to expand.
The Ola Money app is currently available on Android phones and will be launched on iOS as well.
Ola was founded in January 2011 by IIT Bombay alumni Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati.
Ola’s platform currently offers transportation services across 102 cities via 250,000 cabs and 75,000 auto rickshaws, KaaliPeeli taxis and yellow taxis.
Over the past year, Ola has become one of India’s fastest-growing start-ups. Poor transport infrastructure and a shift in consumer habits towards convenience and on-demand services have fuelled the booming demand for cab services such as Ola and Uber. Ola is in advance talks to raise $500 million at a valuation of $5 billion from existing investors which include SoftBank, Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital, Mint reported on 21 May.
Ola bought smaller rival TaxiForSure in a $200 million deal in March to increase its lead over Uber. The company now claims to have an 80% market share.