After Vodafone, Idea is now offering private recharges for its subscribers. The feature allows users to make recharges at offline outlets without disclosing their registered mobile number. Idea mentioned that the service was first launched in Kerala in August last year and is now available across 14 circles in the country. The telco is planning to complete a pan-India roll-out within this month. Idea added that private recharge feature is largely aimed at women users to ensure their privacy. This HT report points out why: Recharge shops in UP were found selling mobile numbers of women to ‘stalkers’ for Rs 50 up till Rs 500.

Note that private recharges are meant for offline recharges at shops, vendors, distributors and is not available for online recharges. Subscribers will first need to send an SMS with the keyword ‘Code’ to 55515. This will generate a one-time OTP, which will be valid for up to 24 hours. Customers can share the OTP at retail outlets and offline recharge counters instead sharing their mobile number to make recharges.

Apart from telecom companies, the ‘number masking’ feature is currently being used by cab aggregators like Ola and Uber to ensure that a customer’s phone number isn’t visible to the driver. In 2015, both companies had rolled out number masking wherein the user’s number will not be disclosed to drivers, and calls made by the drivers would be recorded and stored by the company.

Idea’s merger with Vodafone

Note that Idea is currently in the process of merging its telecom business with Vodafone India. Both companies are expected to have equal control over the merged once the transaction is completed.  Vodafone was valued at $12.4 billion, while Idea’s Valuations stood at $10.8 billion when the deal was signed last month. The combined entities will together hold a net present value of Rs 670 billion (~$10 billion) after integration costs and spectrum liberalization payments.