FreeCharge – from coupons to e-commerce

“Tere pappa ke naam BAMBANI hain BAMBANI, AMBANI nahin” – the line from FreeCharge’s TV ad that caught the attention of everyone. FreeCharge started as a mobile recharge website that provided coupons for every transaction, has now evolved into one of the most promising and biggest payment services company in India.

FreeCharge

Founded in August 2010, the company started out as a small payment service entity that rewarded the users with coupons for every transaction which attracted huge consumer base. Though there were couple of other companies already doing similar thing, FreeCharge stood out in rewards by providing coupons worth the actual transaction making it virtually free for the user. The first two retailers for which coupons were available were McDonald’s and Barista, and were followed by other big retailers such as Café Coffee Day, Domino’s Pizza, Cromā, Puma, Shoppers Stop and Jet Airways.

We recently had a chance to visit FreeCharge office, get a tour and interact with some of the guys including Mr. Govind Rajan, CEO of FreeCharge.

FreeCharge

It was a very interesting discussion where we could easily see that one thing that was emphasized repeatedly was FreeChargethe “User Experience”. Govind also told how he wanted FreeCharge to enable users to use their services with just one tap instead of multiple taps in the application, which currently takes at least three taps for a recharge. The best example for this was given as Cortana integration with FreeCharge in Windows 10 platforms. The number of users on Windows platform who use FreeCharge is so huge that the company has gone ahead with Cortana integration which allows the user to recharge or pay bill on a Windows device with just voice command. We hope the same feature to be available in Android and iPhones as well in future making life easy for the users. When questioned about the competition in this space, Govind frankly acknowledged other players and was confident FreeCharge is capable of retaining it’s customers because of the quality.

Mr. Govind also talked on the various measures that is being taken to protect the customers from attacks or breach. One such example is how they have identified the risky transaction zones in the country, making the algorithms to identify unusual transactions from any user’s account if it falls under one of the risky zones and poses threat.

For those who have been wondering if FreeCharge only allows you to do mobile recharges and pay bills online, the app also allows you to pay your bill at offline stores like McDonald’s, Barista, Café Coffee Day, Domino’s Pizza, Cromā, Puma, Shoppers Stop, Jet Airways and many more in the list. You can either use the OTG (On the Go) Pin generated on your app or scan the QR code at the POS in any of the merchant stores in your smartphone to pay directly using the wallet in FreeCharge app. In case you do not have data connection, the merchants can scan the unique code available in your smartphone to deduct bill amount from the wallet.

Users who want to setup stalls or small businesses and cannot afford a payment service/machine to accept cards, can sign up as a merchant on FreeCharge and accept payments from customers which directly goes to the wallet or Bank accounts as requested which in our opinion is a very good initiative from FreeCharge to help temporary stalls or businesses.

The company has also already introduced the FreeCharge Go, a virtual card powered by MasterCard that can be used on any of the online shopping sites in India to pay using the wallet in FreeCharge.

FreeCharge

FreeCharge Go promises a safe transaction with PCI-DSS compliant card-store and 128-bit encryption making it tamper proof when used online. The virtual card is linked to the existing FreeCharge wallet and at present can be used at only Indian sites and apps like Snapdeal, TaxiForSure, BigBasket, Flipkart, Amazon etc for payment. To get started, get your FreeCharge Go from your FreeCharge Account and secure it with a MPIN. Then simply use the 16-digit card number and CVV in the credit card section on the checkout page of your favourite app or website. Verify your transaction with the OTP sent to your mobile, and you are done.

We were really thrilled at the plans the company has in pipeline to make the consumer life easy when it comes to payment services in India. Hopefully more and more merchants start accepting these kind of virtual wallets for payments that will avoid the need for carrying real cash or cards with us when shopping.

So, if you are still not using FreeCharge app then it is time you download the application on your smartphone and avail the benefits that is being enjoyed by many people already.

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