The timing could not be better. In less than a fortnight of launching its pan-India 4G services, Bharti Airtel on Friday tied up with US-based online taxi aggregator whereby consumers using Uber cabs can pay through Airtel’s mobile wallet called Airtel Money. Further, they would also get to use free 4G speed, Wifi in the cabs. Shortly after the launch, Srini Gopalan, director, consumer business, Bharti Airtel spoke over phone with FE’s Rishi Raj, explaining why the tie-up has a competitive edge over peers.
Was there any exclusive arrangement between Uber and mobile wallet service provider Paytm till now, which you have broken by entering into this pact?
We are not aware of any such exclusivity. Maybe Uber can tell about it. However, I am delighted that the company has tied up with us as we are the largest mobile wallet service provider and therefore the consumers would benefit immensely.
What is it that you offer which say Paytm is not able to offer which would benefit the consumers?
Other mobile wallet service offer the consumers to load cash into the wallet only through online channel. One can either use credit cards, debit cards or Internet banking. However, in Airtel’s case the offline channel is also available, the consumers can walk into any of retail outlets and offer cash to top up their wallet. This is a big, big change. It opens the doors to a large number of subscribers to use the wallet and utilise the services.
What’s the subscriber base of Airtel Money and by how much do you think it will grow with this tie-up?
We do not share the stand-alone subscriber base of Airtel Money but as I said the scope of this tie-up is immense and consumer would benefit much more than they were till now.
The tie-up also provides for free 4G wifi services to consumers in the cab. This begins in Mumbai. When would it spread to other cities?
Uber has said it will be offered in other cities too. They have agreed to offer 4G, wifi services to their consumers so it is entirely up to them by when they want to spread it.
The timing of the tie-up seems to be perfect….
yes. On August 6 we launched our 4G services across 296 cities and on August 21 consumers get this opportunity to use our services. Nothing could be better for us and the consumers.