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Online cab aggregator Uber and telecom operator Bharti Airtel have entered into a strategic partnership to allow Mumbai’s Uber riders to pay with Airtel Money, Airtel’s mobile wallet, in their cab rides in India.

In a press statement, Airtel said that all of Mumbai Uber cabs will be equipped with free Airtel 4G WiFi for usage, and that this service will be launched across India soon. Airtel will become Uber’s official telecom partner in India and offer mobile, data and device plans to Uber’s drivers. The Airtel Money payment option will be available other than the pre-existing methods of credit/debit card, Paytm wallet and cash.

This will be Airtel Money’s debut into the payments segment, after receiving in principal approval from the RBI to function as a payments bank earlier this week. As a promotion, Airtel is also doling out free monies ($$$$) up to Rs 500 for new Uber users who top up their Airtel Money wallet. The RBI approval would be valid for 18 months, during which the applicant would have to comply with the requirements under the Payments Banks Guidelines.  

Airtel’s YTS acquisition
Last week, Airtel acquired a Mumbai-based mobile payment startup YTS for an undisclosed amount, and appointed Manish Khera, MD & CFO at YTS, as the new CEO of Airtel Money. The company did not disclose how many users it had in India, but as per the last available data, for the quarter ended March 31, 2014, Airtel Money had 38 million transactions and 1.7 million active customers, transactions of Rs 1238.30 crore. In 2011, Airtel had partnered with SBI for a mobile payments joint venture that went nowhere. This time, it has partnered with Kotak Mahindra Bank for the Payments Banks license. Kotak Mahindra Bank is expected to pick up 19.9% stake in the JV.

TOF’s Uber funding
Earlier this week, Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF) was set to make a ‘significant investment’ in cab aggregating app Uber to expand its services and solutions in India, by making use of TOF’s network within the Tata Group and outside of it. Uber, which was founded in 2009, currently claims to have a 40% month on month growth rate and a supposed 35% market share in India. Earlier this month, Uber told MediaNama that it had around 150,000 registered cars in its fleet after rival Ola claimed to own 80% of the online cab market share by registered vehicles.

Microsoft and BCCL’s Uber investment
Two weeks ago, Uber raised around $1 billion in funding from Microsoft and The Times Group’s parent company Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL), bringing the company’s total funding to over $5 billion according to reports.

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