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Update: Ola has launched Ola Share, a ride sharing service in beta, which will apparently match users from ‘social groups’ like people from the same workplace, friends from college etc. This service will be available for select users in Bangalore and 5 other cities over the next 3 months. In Bangalore, users will have to pay an introductory fare of Rs 50 for any number of rides, according to the company’s statement. Note that these users will also have the ability to ride with other unknown users. They will also be able to join multiple groups and be matched with other users in groups while requesting a ride. Ola said that this will help in decongestion of traffic, pollution and sustainable transport. Ola Share will appear as a separate category in the Ola app, and 3 people will be able to share the service. It claims that its drivers’ revenue is likely to increase up to 50% by taking continuous rides.

Earlier: Online cab aggregator Ola is planning to launch its own ridesharing service, probably to be known as Ola Share, an Ola source confirmed to MediaNama. Ola hasn’t responded to our query about the service yet and we’ll update this article when and if we hear from them.

Note that two days ago, Ola’s rival Uber announced that it would roll out its car-pooling product UberPOOL in Bangalore in beta by October. Although Uber had not locked down on UberPOOL’s pricing, it said that users could save up to 50% or more with the service. It added that since its drivers would be on trips ‘larger % of the minutes of an hour’, it would result in added income for them.

Rider number masking
Earlier this week, Ola introduced a feature called ‘number masking’ where the user’s number would not be disclosed to drivers, and calls made by the drivers would be recorded and stored by Ola, across its operational cities in India. The company has integrated a cloud telephony solution which sends an encrypted number to the driver, through which all further communication is routed via the cloud number.

Cab leasing program for drivers
Last week, Ola, which raised $225 million in a round of funding from existing investors and new investors, launched a cab leasing program for drivers which would let drivers lease a car for a deposit and monthly lease payments, with an option to own the vehicle after 3 years. The company said that it had piloted the program with 1,000 vehicles in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and 3 other cities, for which it sourced vehicles from Maruti Suzuki.

Free WiFi for Prime cabs under loyalty program
Last week, Ola added free WiFi, ‘superior cars’, best rated drivers, through its ‘Select’ program for riders taking Ola Prime rides in Bangalore. Ola Prime is available in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Jaipur and is a drop service through sedans and SUVs. Ola launched the rewards and loyalty program called ‘Ola Select’ for its frequent customers last month. At that time, Select users would be able to use free WiFi, no-cost upgrades and discounts.

Drivers charged for using the platform
This month, Ola and rival Uber started charging their drivers Rs 300 a week to try and prevent them from using other aggregating platforms. This charge, which applies regardless of usage, is being attributed to phone, mobile Internet connections and other services provided by the aggregators.

Also read: Ola’s Anand Subramanian on TFS integration, user expectations, smaller city expansions & more

Our Ola coverage here.