Bangalore: TaxiForSure, India’s third-largest cab service provider, plans to introduce a cashless payment system this year in which a smartphone app will automatically deduct fare from money preloaded in a user’s account.

Rivals Olacabs and Meru Cabs have already launched such wallets, which can be loaded with money using debit or credit cards or net banking before the journey.

Olacabs and Meru Cabs launched wallets on their mobile apps last month to compete with the cashless payment offered by San Francisco-based rival Uber, which entered India last year and has gained well-heeled customers in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.

“The wallet is ready. We are just making sure there are no security hassles," TaxiForSure co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna said. “However, wallets will only complement cash and other options, rather than becoming the preferred option of a majority of users."

TaxiForSure, controlled by Serendipity Infolabs Pvt. Ltd, expects to end the year with at least 20,000 daily bookings from roughly 2,000-3,000 bookings last year, partly because of its entry into several new markets, Radhakrishna said.

“Three months ago, we were in three cities. Now, we are in 10. This year and early next year is all about expansion. Our target is to expand operations to 52 cities in the next one year," Radhakrishna said.

The company, which has raised nearly $50 million this year from Accel Partners and other venture capital firms, is working with a professor from MIT Sloan School of Management to increase the rides per cab as it looks to improve usage and reduce costs. Currently, TaxiForSure is able to squeeze 4.5 to 5 rides per driver per day.

“For a driver, on an average, 8-10 rides at Rs.200 is good. Our rate has improved from two rides per driver when we initially started out. We are also working on reducing the gap between promised ETAs (estimated time of arrival) and the actual ETAs."

TaxiForSure and bigger rival Ola Cabs have quickly grown sales over the past year by increasing their fleet through the marketplace model. TaxiForSure and Ola, unlike market leader Meru, don’t own cabs. TaxiForSure signs up with taxi operators while Ola works with both taxi operators and individual drivers to offer cabs to users.

These companies have emerged as the biggest threats to Meru as they’ve added a large number of cabs very quickly, spent on marketing and offered attractive prices. The increasing popularity of their mobile apps has also helped boost growth.

TaxiForSure has 7,000 cars spread over the 10 cities, and has been adding, on an average, 500-600 cars every month. Ola has about 25,000 cars while Meru has around 10,000 cars.

TaxiForSure has also launched a service for companies to book cabs for their employees. TaxiForSure’s corporate product, which accounts for less than 10% of the business, will compete directly with Uber’s similar offering which the company recently launched in India.

“We had launched this product (Uber for Business) earlier in the UK, the US and France. (Last week) Wednesday, we launched it globally, including in India," said Bhavik Rathod, general manager for Uber in Bangalore.

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