Online recharge and couponing service FreeCharge has introduced a new feature that will let users pay their electricity bills online. The feature is currently available on desktop, while the mobile site and app will see the update soon. Freecharge mentions that it will introduce e-payments for other utilities in the coming months.
As of now FreeCharge supports eight electricity boards including Reliance Energy Mumbai, JVVNL, JDVVNL, CSEB, BEST, BESCOM Bangalore, APSPDCL and MP Paschim Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Indore. The company claims that it will expand the number of electricity boards on board to 30 within the next month.
To pay a bill, users need to select the appropriate electricity board and enter the relevant identification info, post which payments can be made by net banking and credit or debit cards. According to FreeCharge, on using the platform for the first time, it will register the user with the biller and subsequently send out reminders when the next bill is generated.
Note that Freecharge is pretty late to the party, with competitors like MobiKwik and Paytm featuring electricity payments at least since 2012. ItzCash, which tied up with the Manipur State Power Distribution Company in May, to let customers to recharge their prepaid electricity meters using their online portal or visiting the nearest ItzCash Point outlet, is one of the newer entrants to this group.
Acquisition by Snapdeal: In April, ecommerce marketplace Snapdeal acquired FreeCharge in a deal that was pegged at around $450 million. The deal came a month after Snapdeal had acquired a majority stake in Gurgaon-based financial products and services platform RupeePower for an undisclosed amount.
Freecharge funding: Prior to the acquisition, Freecharge had raised $80 million from San Francisco-based hedge fund Valiant Capital Management and Hong Kong-based hedge fund Tybourne Capital Management, with participation from existing investors in February. The company had also raised $33 million from Sequoia Capital, Sofina and RuNet in September last year.
Preburn acquisition: In August last year, FreeCharge acquired the offline app store startup Preburn for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition was an acqui-hire and the Preburn team was expected to join FreeCharge. This was a month after Mumbai-based social wishlist site Wishberg shut down its operations, and founders Pravin Jadhav and Kulin Shah had moved to FreeCharge.