Gokul Krishnamoorthy
Apr 08, 2016

Goafest 2016: Affordable smartphones, cheaper data and Unified Payment Interface will increase rural penetration, says RedBus CEO

Prakash Sangam from the bus ticketing portal outlined the company's roadmap on day two

Goafest 2016: Affordable smartphones, cheaper data and Unified Payment Interface will increase rural penetration, says RedBus CEO
Speaking at the Knowledge Seminar on 8 April, day two of Goafest 2016, Prakash Sangam, CEO of online bus ticketing company RedBus, outlined the company's roadmap.
The Indian company, launched in 2006 to address consumer pain points and boost operator efficiency in the $3 bn intercity bus travel industry in India, is not just targeting international markets which share commonalities with India, but is also betting big on growth beyond larger cities. It launched services in Malaysia and Singapore last year. 
RedBus was bought over by ibibo Group in 2013, and currently claims to be the second largest ticketing portal with 80,000 transactions completed per day, next only to IRCTC.
Asked about the role the application could play in rural markets, Sangam pointed to three factors that would contribute to growth beyond the big cities and towns: cheaper smartphones leading to higher penetration, lower cost of data access with the advent of Reliance Jio, and NPCI's Unified Payment Interface that is due for launch in a month.
"With Unified Payment Interface, anyone with a bank account can transfer money with their phone with what will be like a Whatsapp message. It is to be launched in a month or so. It will transform the number of people who have the ability to make payments online," said Sangam.
The chief executive cited other areas of growth beyond ticketing the company is focused on, building on the core app. It claims to have installed GPS tracking on 35 per cent of the private bus fleet in India, which aids operators and consumers. Trends on bus occupancy, inventory and market share data also help in arriving at dyamic pricing, among other things, he noted.     
RedBus, which has expanded its scope to add reviews of even rest stops to enable consumer choice (using Google), will create its own reviews going forward, he explained.
"RedBus is not a clone of something in the West. Because of that, we have been able to address pain points particular to the Indian market," observed Sangam.
Questioned on whether low cost airlines could impact bus travel, the CEO said, "With urbanisation and more smart cities, the need for travel will only go up. We have looked at similar markets on socio-economic parameters, like Malaysia and Brazil. There will be some impact. But, anyone who wants to travel at the last minute, and frequent travellers, will continue to travel by bus." 
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