Uber has signed a multi-layered partnership deal with telecoms giant Bharti Airtel in India.
The tie-up is Uber's first concrete operational move in India after it earmarked $1 billion to ramp up its operations in its largest market outside the US -- and its fastest growing market, too.
The announcement leads with the news that Uber riders can now pay for their trip using Airtel Money's digital wallet. Uber is the first e-commerce business in India to integrate Airtel payments onto its platform.
Payments have been an issue for Uber in India, and adding Airtel Wallet to its list of approved payment options comes a few months after it got the all-clear for its Android-using riders to pay by credit card. It also updated its systems so that cash payments could be made in some cities.
Uber riders will also have free access to its 4G wifi network during their trip. The in-car wifi rollout starts in Mumbai with plans to introduce it across all of India.
Finally, Airtel will offer bespoke and discounted Airtel contracts to Uber drivers in India.
Earlier this week Uber confirmed that Tata Opportunities Fund has invested an undisclosed amount in the business. The fund is overseen by Tata Capital, part of Indian conglomerate Tata Group which has combined revenues of more than $100 billion. The investment will feed into its global operations and is not limited to India.
Elsewhere, the Uber rumour mill continues to grind. Talk of an IPO had fallen away recently but is now back on the business pages after the latest leaking of documents shown to investors. Reuters says that Uber's revenues for this year will be around $2 billion, based on total bookings for 2015 of $10.84 billion, of which Uber takes 20%.
The IPO will happen in 18-24 month's time, allegedly.
Uber's global bookings are projected to rise nearly threefold to $10.84 billion this year [Reuters exclusive]
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Ixigo joins in as taxis and ride-sharing take hold in India (April 24, 2015)