Bangalore-based online cab booking service TaxiForSure seems to have quietly launched its own in-app prepaid wallet to offer cashless taxi rides. (hat tip – Ashish Sinha).

We are not quite sure as to when the company rolled out this service, although TaxiForSure co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna had told Livemint earlier in the month that they have already readied a mobile wallet and they plan to launch it this year.

Interestingly, this launch comes on heels of TaxiForSure’s competitors Olacabs and Meru Cabs launching a similar in-app prepaid wallet last month.

We tried the wallet feature on Nexus 4 and noticed that one can recharge their wallet through credit or debit card or through net banking and then use this to pay for taxi rides, quite similar to how the wallets from Olacabs and Meru Cabs work.

Who is powering it? What’s currently not clear is with whom TaxiForSure has partnered to offer this wallet service. Note that like Olacabs, TaxiForSure primarily acts as a taxi aggregator and doesn’t own these taxis. Hence, a closed wallet cannot be used for making these third party transactions. It would need a semi-closed prepaid wallet license or at least a tie-up with a company which has the same license. (More on wallets below). We’re currently awaiting a response from TaxiForSure on this.

Uber vs RBI

Note that Uber has been offering cashless taxi rides since its launch in India, although the service was limited to credit cards and the company was routing their transactions through foreign payment gateways, that allowed them to charge customers for recurring transactions without the RBI’s mandated 2-factor authentication.

Earlier in August, RBI stopped this sidestepping of credit card norms through a directive, mandating entities that route online billing internationally, for goods and services purchased online using Indian cards, to include a second factor of authentication, and route transactions through a bank in India. This was about a month after Meru Cabs asked Reserve Bank Of India (RBI) to extend its recurring billing guidelines to foreign players like Uber as well, thereby creating a level playing field among domestic and International players.

Uber has until the end of this week to comply with these instructions and the company is reportedly in talks to launch a similar in-app prepaid wallet.

Types of Prepaid Wallets

1. Closed System Payment Instruments, can be used at their own establishments and do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption.
2. Semi-Closed System Payment Instruments, used at merchant locations, and which can be reloaded, but do not allow cash withdrawal (for example: cash cards and smart cards)
3. Semi-Open System Payment Instruments: these can be reloadable or non-reloadable, and can be used at any point-of-sale terminal, but they do not allow cash withdrawal. For example: gift cards issued by banks
4. Open System Payment Instruments: these can be re-loadable or non-reloadable, but most importantly, they permit cash withdrawal at ATMs. Examples of such cards are the Payroll cards and travel cards.

Related Reading

– Meru Cabs asks RBI to extend recurring payment rules to foreign players like Uber
– Meru Cabs: usage of foreign payment gateways violated RBI guidelines, FEMA rules
– New RBI restrictions may impact your international online purchases
– On RBI’s online billing guidelines: What about the small merchants?