The days of searching your local newspaper for discount coupons, or waiting till a festive season such as Diwali or Dussehra to buy your favourite gadgets in special discount sales, are gone. You can now look at the mobile phone in your hand: the endless possibilities of m-commerce technology make shopping easier and cheaper.
M-commerce promises many options, from mobile discount coupons to easy-pay and easy-shop solutions. M-commerce may help you get the most for your money.
For those who like using all the technology and services available to get those coveted discounts or services, here are the latest options.
It’s raining coupons
MoneySaver coupons are a new facility gaining ground rapidly. Using mobile phone services, they provide you exclusive offers at your favourite brands and merchants—from apparel to grocery, travel and entertainment—valid over an extended period of seven months. You buy a MoneySaver book for Rs399. The book consists of paper coupons and mobile coupons (m-coupons) which you can redeem at the stores that MoneySaver has a tie-up with. If you use all the coupons, you get a total discount of Rs30,000 on purchases.
Dipti Singh, a 25-year-old graphic designer from New Delhi, says: “MoneySaver is an amazing facility, especially the m-coupons, because it is very convenient. I can get the discount even if I forget to carry the paper discount coupon book. I saved around Rs2,000 on travel booking with Travel Guru and around Rs1,500 on apparel shopping.”
Singh uses the MoneySaver m-coupons for flight and hotel booking, clothes shopping and even buying ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.
Kunal Bhal, CEO, MoneySaver, says: “Each MoneySaver book comes with a registration card. You have to scratch the card and SMS the registration code. Your mobile phone gets registered and you can demand mobile coupons through SMS. We are currently active in the Delhi-NCR region. We will shortly be expanding our services to Mumbai and other metros.”
Coupons And Wallet In Your Phone… (Graphic)
You can get MoneySaver books at the website www.moneysaver.in or by sending an SMS to 09870900900.
Youngsters are not the only ones taking to mobile coupons at MoneySaver. Consider Neetu Dhir. The 49-year-old freelance interior designer from Delhi says: “I shopped at W worth Rs4,000 and used my m-coupon to get a 20% discount. I saved around Rs850 on that bill.” Other customers have similar tales of saving and convenience.
Dhir recalls that while she was using her mobile coupon to get her discount, a young couple asked her about the coupons. She says, “I have used m-coupons at so many places that you could call me a loyal customer of MoneySaver now.” (See, How to use MoneySaver coupons.)
Mumbai on Tuesdays
Delhi is not the only city beginning to get its piece of m-commerce action. Vodafone, one of India’s leading cellular service providers, launched its Vodafone Tuesday service exclusively for subscribers in Mumbai.
So, if you are a Vodafone customer from Mumbai, you can get m-coupons on any day of the week, but can redeem them only on a Tuesday, therefore the name. You can watch movies—the offers range from “buy one get a ticket of equivalent amount free” to “buy one get a free ticket of lesser amount”—using the m-coupons at select theatres and multiplexes.
You can even get various discounts at select eating joints which accept these coupons. (See Vodafone Tuesday for further details about the offer).
A college student who did not want to be named said: “I usually go to movies only on Tuesdays. Imagine, instead of paying Rs500 for two tickets, I pay Rs250 for one ticket and get the other free. I save Rs250, which I spend on snacks. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t avail this m-coupon discount offer.”
But there are exceptions such as Vikas Agrawal, 27, a mutual funds distributor from Mumbai. “I tried availing this mobile discount twice, but the queue was too long, and there was a separate line for redemption.” He got tired of waiting and bought regular tickets instead, he says.
A secure wallet
M-coupons are just the tip of the huge m-commerce iceberg. OxiCash is India’s first pre-paid mobile wallet. It allows you to make payments for services such as prepaid mobile and TV recharges, bill payments, travel and other utilities from your mobile or PC. (See OxiCash for details about the service). You can choose the products and services and make payments online, through SMS, GPRS or other access technology.
Pramod Saxena, founder chairman and managing director, Oxigen Services India Pvt. Ltd, says: “OxiCash is India’s first mobile wallet. It is a new payment gateway. It is convenient and flexible.” Even if the phone is lost, don’t worry: The money is not stored on your mobile.
However, these services do not come under any regulations. “No money transfer is involved, so OxiCash does not come under any regulatory authority,” says Sunil Kulkarni, president (corporate), Oxigen Services India.
M-commerce is still in its infancy in India so, once more players enter the sector, customers will have more options. And regulatory norms will make it safer than it is today.
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