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Directi’s co-founder and chief executive officer Bhavin Turakhia and chief technology officer Ramki Gaddipati have launched Zeta Meal Vouchers, a mobile-based meal voucher platform for corporate employees. Through the Zeta app, employees can purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages from retail outlets.

Employees will need to download the Zeta app which is available on Android, iOS and Windows phone. Human resource managers will be provided with a desktop interface that can be used to initiate transfer of meal vouchers to hundreds of employees at one go. Employees can then receive these meal vouchers on their smartphones and start using them instantly.

So far, the company has tied up with over 100,000 merchant outlets which can accept Zeta Meal Vouchers. Its competitors, Sodexo and Ticket Restaurant, are accepted in 25,000 outlets across in 1,500 cities and towns and 18,000 outlets in over 3,000 cities in India. Ticket Restaurant has about 3,500 corporate customers using their vouchers while Sodexo has 10,000 corporate customers. So far, Zeta Meal Vouchers are being used in four corporate clients.

Turakhia told MediaNama that Zeta Meal Vouchers charges merchants a commission of 1-2% of the purchase. He also mentioned that Sodexo and Ticket Restaurant charges a commission of 4-7%. Turakhia also mentioned that Zeta operates as a wallet and has tied up with RBL Bank to ensure that they have got the requisite licenses from the Reserve Bank of India.

The company currently has 120 employees with about 65 members working on sales.

Reimbursement on bills which do not accept vouchers

Zeta will also reimburse employees for expenses when they pay by cash in locations which do not accept their vouchers. Users will have to take a picture of the bill on the app and send it across to Zeta’s team. Zeta will then reimburse the amount to the employee’s bank account (the app also links up to their bank’s account) and the bill amount will be deducted from the meal vouchers.

“The moment people do this, my merchant affiliation team will sign up the restaurant or store on the next day so that this will not happen again,” Turakhia added.

MediaNama’s take

Digitizing meal vouchers is a great step and this is a great example of how digital payments can be extended to B2B. It’s strange why both Sodexo and Ticket Restaurant, who have a wallet license from the Reserve Bank of India, did not extend meal vouchers on smartphones. Paper-based vouchers are cumbersome and riddled with logistics issues. People also do not get change on meal vouchers and will have to forgo that amount when paying.  This is a good step forward although it remains to be seen how Zeta will attract more corporate clients on to its platform.