FreeCharge wallet users will now be able to make digital payments for railway ticket bookings through a partnership with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). Ticket booking through the wallet will be available on both normal and tatkal hours. With this, three major digital wallets – Paytm, MobiKwik and FreeCharge – are now available as payment option on the IRCTC.
Speed is important for IRCTC
IRCTC processes over 180 million transactions on its platform now. In April 2015, IRCTC users booked 13.45 lakh e-tickets on a single day, its highest so far.
FreeCharge said that it will process ticket booking within 10 seconds on the wallet. This might be crucial for tatkal booking and MobiKwik recently announced that it can be done in 2 seconds on its wallet. Tatkal is a special high demand service that was launched for the benefit of passengers who have to plan their journey at the last moment and cannot secure reserved accommodation.
The Tatkal service is notorious for its downtime. In 2012, Indian Railways, announced several steps to streamline Tatkal ticket booking and increased ticketing capacity of the IRCTC website from 350,000 per day to 500,000 per day. Tatkal ticket booking was revised to start at 10AM from 8 AM. This was prompted by criticism on the performance of IRCTC’s online ticketing website, and allegations that a daily 4-5 minute downtime was orchestrated in order to help touts book Tatkal tickets.
FreeCharge is trying to make more inroads in the travel segment and earlier this year formed partnerships with Cleartrip and Redbus and will be a payment option.
Nothing on food ordering
Note that FreeCharge has not mentioned whether the wallet can be used to order food from the railway service and it looks like Paytm has an edge over this. Last year, Paytm partnered with the catering service to let customers use Paytm to pay for e-catering services, in addition to the currently existing online payment and cash on delivery modes.