Airtel Money, a mobile wallet service has tied up with Indian Railways IRCTC department to provide mobile based train ticketing service reports ET. The service is based on USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) technology.
To avail the service, the customer need to get a valid airtel mobile connection and should be registered on IRCTC with an updated Airtel Money mobile number. The information regarding stations, trains availability, PNR, cancellation, etc can be enquired by dialing *400# to access the USSD system.
The user will then get subscribed to the USSD service, which will generate an Airtel Money express account into which customers will have to load cash either online or by visiting an Airtel Money outlet.
When a user will dial the *400# code, it will prompt the option to book tickets and will guide through the rest of the process. The user will then receive a sms from IRCTC which can be used while travelling along with one ID proof.
Airtel Money is a service that transforms the mobile phone into kind of virtual wallet which customers can use to load money and use it for shopping and making payments. It is available across 300 key cities in India and will cater to around 185 million customers of IRCTC country wide. Bharti Airtel also recently ties up with Google to provide a Free Zone for its users.
Also, IRCTC has recently launched sms based ticketing service, through Bharat BPO, Frequency Weekly and Pyro Group. The registered users on IRCTC can avail the service by sending SMS to 139 and 5676714 for the first two companies and by installing a BSNL pre-paid card for the third.
Apart from IRCTC, Makemytrip have also started with the sms based bus ticketing service.
It seems that India’s online travel leaders are trying to gain the widest share in the niche market of online ticket booking and they are taking the mobile route to achieve the same.