Recharge: Get your money’s worth
| by Priyanka Tilve
Everybody likes a good bargain. Call it the Indian psyche, but we are a bunch of bargain hunters and an extra something always makes us happy. Little wonder then that sites that allow you to recharge or pay your mobile bills and offer you coupons of the same value have gained immense popularity. There are plenty of such sites around with the help of which you can pay/recharge your mobile, data card and even DTH bills. But as they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and these sites mean business. While on one hand they serve the customers by providing them with an easy option to pay their bills and reward them with coupons, on the other hand, they provide the retailers with a customer base that is looking for such deals. We take a look at what facilitated the rise of such sites, the process, and what customers should expect.
Why phone recharge, you wonder? India has over 800 million mobile subscribers, with the number expected to touch 1 billion by 2013. Out of this, pre-paid connections form the majority, so providing mobile recharge is quite a lucrative business proposition. Increasingly, the consumers are opting for online alternatives to recharge their mobiles over the traditional methods. As Kunal Shah, co-founder & CEO, Accelyst Solutions, parent company of FreeCharge.in, puts it, “We started off thinking of this concept in our minds to become an effective media channel for retailers to acquire new customers. So we thought of going after the largest selling product, which is recharge, and work towards making it free. We thought that we should be able to get decent traction and convert a lot of these customers to transact with our merchant partners. So FreeCharge was created to be able to create a relevant medium where foot falls can be created and can become a performance marketing engine as opposed to an advertising engine.”
Freecharge.in has great discounts
One may often wonder that when almost all the major telecom operators have online payment options on their respective sites, why would they also be present on sites like these? The answer is that they see it as just another platform to serve their customers. They already have offline partners who sell their recharge, plus they have tie-ups with leading banks that allow users to pay their bills. As Kunal points out, “Operators are mandated to grow the number of transactions as opposed to controlling all the transactions on their site. And the fact remains that 99.9% business comes from the resellers, as opposed to their own site.
So their clear objective is to always drive transactions irrespective of the medium of transactions. On the other hand, when it comes to the retailers, they can now target interested customers. If they were to give coupons away in the open market, then they may not get traction, but when they provide coupons to transacting customers, it may actually convert into footfalls for them. Now they could sign-up with operators individually or they can work on a platform like ours where we have brought all these operators anyway. So we are a three-way platform where we bring the operators, merchants and customers together.”
A Fair Bargain?
You will have to sign-up with these sites to use their services. You then key in your mobile number, operator details, amount to be recharged, select the coupons of the equal amount and make the payment. As simple as it may sound, that’s not always the case. When it comes to making payments for your post-paid number or even your DTH, it’s fairly simple, but when it comes to recharging your pre-paid mobile service, you will know the plethora of plans out there; some may provide you additional free SMS or free data download or even extended validity. How do you then decide which one to choose?
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