Vodafone ties with Bharat BPO for railway booking via M-Pesa

Vodafone India has partnered with Bharat BPO to launch online booking of railway tickets through mobile phone using Vodafone M-Pesa as payment option.

Bharat BPO is the official Rail Sampark partner of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) .

The partnership will enable safe, secure and convenient ticketing transaction through mobile phone, officials at IRCTC said.

The service is named “139 Railways Reservation.”

IRCTC is the no.1 website in India in terms of user traffic. With a major part of 1.25 billion population in India relying on the website for booking tickets, IRCTC has been looking for options to expand the service beyond online sites.

The new service is also expected to put an end to the long wait for commuters at the railway booking counters, officials at IRCTC hope.

m-pesaTo register for the service customers will have to download the app only once on their mobile. Further they don’t require any data connection for registration or booking.

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Vodafone customers can also download the application by sending an SMS “TICKET” to 111. Once accessed, the app prompts users with interactive and guided menu options towards booking tickets.

Speaking on this initiative, Suresh Sethi, business head – M-Pesa , Vodafone India said “This would open up and extend the convenience and efficiency of e-Commerce and online services to those unbanked millions who are operating with cash and are otherwise excluded from this eco-system.”

The service can be used for booking railway e-tickets, seek PNR status, cancel tickets, get refunds, and more. The main advantage is that it works without an internet connection.

Jatinder Verma, CEO, Bharat BPO Services, said, “This is the real edge of mobility that will touch new dimensions in mobile usage. The esteemed relationship with Vodafone M-Pesa and their tremendous reach towards the masses will definitely make this initiative a success.”

The SMS based booking on 139 is available for all feature phone customers. The application is also compatible with Android and J2ME handsets.