Following the National Democratic Alliance government’s push towards a cashless economy and to ease the rush at booking counters, the railways is planning to introduce booking of unreserved railway tickets on e-wallets like PayTM, JioMoney and Airtel Money. This move will scale up paperless mobile ticketing operation across the country in a big way. A mobile wallet is a pre-loaded virtual wallet which can be used for online and offline payments.
In a potential game changer, the national carrier plans to put up quick response (QR) codes at railway stations for unreserved passengers wherein by scanning the code through a mobile device, a passenger will be able to buy a ticket by entering the destination and pay through mobile wallet. The ticket will be delivered on the mobile device. With talks on to finalise the modalities, many top mobile wallet companies are keen on joining the railways. Unreserved ticketing forms a huge chunk of the railways’ total ticket sale in a day and “we want to tap this sector through e-commerce”, said a senior Railway Ministry official. “We should be able to monetise on the unreserved segment which has been our biggest challenge,” said another railway ministry official.
Instead of bearing any cost for this facility, the public transporter is expected to earn from the selected e-wallet players commission on each ticket sold and retainer fees. The move is a win-win proposition for both the railways and the mobile wallet companies. The railways carry total 23 million passengers in a day, of which only six per cent is in reserved category and the rest are in unreserved segment which includes daily commuters. Discussions are on with these players for making the operation foolproof. The railways expect to make the e-wallet system operational across the country early next year, forming a part of the ‘Digital India’ mission of the Prime Minister.