Indian Railways can soon launch a massive paperless, cashless initiative of their own, wherein passengers can book unreserved train tickets directly from e-wallets such as Paytm, Airtel Money, Jio Money, Freecharge and other e-wallets.
This move can be one of the biggest ones from IRCTC to promote cashless and paperless ticketing system. And the reason is sheer volume.
Unreserved Tickets Hold The Trump Card
Indian Railways ferries more than 2 crore passengers in a single day. However, out of this number, only 6% opt for reserved route of booking tickets. Whooping 94% of the tickets sold by IRCTC are unreserved ones, and it is this massive market which Indian Railways wants to tap and convert paperless.
One senior railway official said, “We want to tap this sector through e-commerce”,
After PM Modi unleashed a direct war against black money by banning Rs 500, Rs 1000 currency notes, a new wave of cashless economy is slowly but gradually engulfing the whole nation.
IRCTC’s move to enable unreserved tickets via mobile wallets would certainly compliment this mission, and enable a more solid foundation for cashless economy.
IRCTC’s Own App Fails
Last year, Indian Railways had launched their own mobile app to enable cashless, paperless booking of unreserved tickets. Currently, this app can be used to book unreserved tickets in sub-urban regions such as Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi-Palwal.
In fact, early this year, Indian Railways launched UTSOnMobile app as well, which allowed passengers to download their tickets into the app, and avoid taking a printout of the same.
However, it seems that IRCTC didn’t receive enthusiastic response of their mobile app for unreserved tickets, as sales didn’t pick up like that of IRCTC’s app to book reserved tickets.,
There can be several reasons for the same; and one of the primary ones is the mandatory usage of Indian Railways’ own e-wallet to book tickets. Unlike IRCTC’s app/website to book reserved tickets, the app for booking unreserved tickets required the passenger to first load money into the IRCTC’s e-wallet, and then book tickets.
This certainly proved to be a major hindrance for the audience of unreserved tickets, who are mostly non-technical, rural users.
The proposal to partner with commercial e-wallet players like Paytm, Airtel Money etc came up after Railway Officials realized that these apps are anyways being heavily used to book cinemas, events and paying utility bills. Hence, integrating unreserved tickets into their platform will make complete sense, rather than pushing IRCTC’s own e-wallet for making the bookings.
Right now, talks are on to embed a bar-code based ‘fool-proof’ system for booking unreserved tickets, and creating a platform which can support more than 1 crore unreserved tickets which are currently booked pan-India.
There were lots of resistance and anger when Indian Railways declared that Aadhaar Card needs to mandatorily submitted for issuing any type of train tickets. Resistance was quite obvious, as those passengers who don’t have Aadhaar Card can face problems while booking train tickets.
But the benefits of such moves are slowly starting to appear. Using one Aadhaar Card, rail passengers can soon book reserved as well unreserved tickets, and pay via e-wallets.
Will this plan work for Indian Railways? Can paper-less and cashless economy in India improve after such partnership is finalized? Do share your views by commenting right here!