By: M.S.Yatnatti: Editor and Video Journalist Bangalore: Ola is a popular cab-hailing service in India and the company has been riding high since the last couple of years. The company started out four years back in 2010, and has grown exponentially in all major cities. Ola faced serious competition from it US-rival Uber who also capitalised on India's growing demand. In face of such competition, the company has been constantly re-inventing itself and strategizing new avenues to stay relevant.These new services have expanded way beyond just being a cab aggregator. Here are five things you can do with Ola other than booking a taxi: Ola, India's most popular mobile app for transportation, integrates city transportation for customers and driver partners onto a mobile technology platform. As one of India's fastest growing companies we ensure convenient, transparent and quick service fulfilment using technology to make transportation hassle free for everyone. Ola's offerings on its platform ranges from affordable AC cabs on the Ola Micro range to the superior luxury offering from Ola Lux as well as localized offerings like the ubiquitous Auto-rickshaws to Shuttle buses for daily commute. Using the Ola mobile app, users across 102 cities can conveniently book from over 450,000 vehicles available to them. They've empowered hundreds of thousands of driver-partners as entrepreneurs, by building an ecosystem encompassing financing institutions, car manufacturers, service providers etc. for drivers to grow professionally and personally as well as a consistent earning opportunity for them on the Ola platform.
Pay phone bill/recharge phone:Ola Money is the biggest new venture from Ola. The feature was developed to make taxi payments seamless but with the coming demonetisation the company jumped on to the band wagon of e-wallets and started offering various features other than just paying for cabs. The user can just recharge their Ola Money wallets and directly recharge phones or pay phone bills. Ola Money can also be used to pay electricity, DTH and gas bills.
Ola Play:Ola Play is the latest feature launched by the company which though a part of the ride, has a completely new take on entertainment while riding a taxi. The company claims that a rider, in context to their interaction with the app, spends most time in the cab and hence needs to be entertained while in the cab. The rider is given a tablet in the car to watch videos or play games. This tab will be connected to the WiFi within the car.
Rent a car :Similar to hailing a cab, a user can call for a car then chose from various hourly packages within the app. Being a cab hailing service, Ola had great potential in terms of market reach and fleet of cars. They used this to their own benefit and started a car rental service. According to the company, this service is only second to the Indian Railways in terms of availability across the nation.
Transfer money and pay at shops:Just like other e-wallets in the Indian market, Ola Money can be used to transfer small funds from one account to another. The user can send money using just the contact number of the receiver. However, the recipient will also need to have an Ola Money account to claim the money. The e-wallet can also be used in various stores across the country. The sender can use a merchant code or a mobile number to pay for their purchase.
Shuttle services:Travelling via cabs daily can be an expensive affair for many and using the conventional public transport for a long period can tire you endlessly. Ola's Shuttle services are an attempt at striking a balance between both. The user can insert their desired pick up and drop points on the app and confirm a seat on the shuttle that follows that specific route. If there is no such route available, one can even request for a new route which may or may not be implemented with time.
Reportedly Hundreds of taxi drivers who have signed up with aggregators Ola and Uber staged a flash strike recently at the Kempegowda International Airport against the flat rates being charged by these companies, which they said was insufficient for them. However, the police dispersed the protesters within an hour and cabs were available soon after. nterestingly, these drivers had also protested against the Transport Department earlier in May this year, when it asked the aggregators to comply with the Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules introduced at the start of 2016, which sought to fix a maximum fare as well as making registration with the Department mandatory. RTO officials had at the time said that this was in the interest of the drivers. "For the past few months, Uber and Ola have been charging flat rates between Rs. 400-500 for drops from and to the airport. This is inclusive of their commissions, which have been increased to 25 per cent, as well as the toll charges. We get passengers from far-away places like Electronics City. The drive is two-three hours and there is no money for us at the end of the trip," said a driver, who was part of the protests.Drivers said that they were forced to accept these trips, which affected their daily earnings. "Most of us have brought our vehicles on loan. Going to and from the airport at these rates will not leave us with enough time to make more trips. How will we pay the instalment?," asked a driver. According to reports the rate cards for both Ola and Uber were not showing a flat rate, but Uber had earlier announced a flat rate of Rs. 549 to all parts of the city, stating "Whether you are headed to Ejipura or Electronic city, your Uber fare is the same," in a blog post. Uber had reportedly in a statement said : "Our trip fares are based on the supply and demand dynamics of the marketplace. The airport trips, like any other Uber trips, are charged per km and will be shown upfront on booking your ride."