Vodafone entered into a strategic partnership today with Bharat BPO, an arm of the Railways, to provide an integrated train enquiry service as well as enable online booking of railway tickets through its mobile money transfer and payment service Vodafone M-Pesa.
Vodafone M-Pesa’s tie up with Bharat BPO would enable safe, secure and convenient ticketing transactions through mobile phones, it was officially announced here today. “This partnership will help open up and extend the convenience and efficiency of e-commerce and online services to those unbanked millions who use cash and are otherwise excluded from this eco-system,” Vodafone M-Pesa head Suresh Sethi said in a statement. “This new app-based offering empowers our customers to book rail e-tickets, seek PNR status, cancel tickets, get refunds, all at their own convenience, through their mobile handsets. We are extending a highly safe and secure technology platform which works even for customers who do not have an Internet connection,” Sethi said.
Vodafone users could download the application by sending an SMS ‘Ticket’ to 111. Once accessed, the app prompts users with interactive and guided menu options to book tickets. M-Pesa customers could send in their booking details through the ‘139 Railways Reservation’ app and only have to enter their M-PIN to authorise transactions. Additionally, information on partial or full cancellation, PNR status, could also be accessed through mobile applications.
In case of cancellations, relevant refunds would be credited to customers’ M-Pesa wallets. The SMS-based booking on 139 is available for all feature phone customers. “This innovative offering would make railway e-ticket booking easy for customers since they can book tickets from anywhere,” Bharat BPO Services chief executive Jatinder Verma said. Commenting on the partnership, IRCTC Marketing Director AK Brar said, “We are confident that this association will play a transformational role in providing a holistic service proposition even for the unbanked sections.”