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HomeTechAuto app Namma Yatri looks to crowd build its offerings

Auto app Namma Yatri looks to crowd build its offerings

The builder of the auto rickshaw booking mobile application Namma Yatri is seeking public participation to help it match the service and user experience offered by tech companies like Ola, Uber and Rapido.

Juspay Technologies is seeking participation from coders, policymakers and other stakeholders to better the product it has developed for Bengaluru’s Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union (ARDU). The software, data, analytics and the future roadmap of the open mobility project are available for the public to see.

“We want to request the people of Bengaluru to also join the initiative with us. To do that, we are completely opening up the system,” said Vimal Kumar, CEO and founder of Juspay, which is building the Namma Yatri app. The company has worked on open network projects like the Unified Payment Interface app BHIM.

Kumar was speaking at a press conference in the city which also saw participation from ARDU. He said the app has been in the making for over three years, and till date it has clocked more than 4,30,000 trips and onboarded more than 43,000 drivers. Close to 400,000 customers have downloaded the app, he said. The app facilitates some 12,000 trips every day.

Even as the app is up and running, Kumar said the project is still work-in-progress and there are improvements that need to be made in its maps, pricing and cancellations, among other areas.

“We are inviting experts like coding experts, design experts, marketing experts, growth hackers, policy experts, legal experts. We need so many skill sets and Bengaluru is the place of innovation,” he said. “By opening up, we are expecting contributors to work for this cause.”

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Namma Yatri will have a dedicated channel on messaging platforms like Slack, through which volunteers can share feedback. The network does not charge any commission from drivers or customers, but in the future, it will charge a subscription fee from drivers, Kumar said, adding that the fee will help maintain and run the network and meet expenses like maps and server cost.The app is made using the Beckn Protocol, a standard software specification with which networks like UPI and Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) have been built. Kumar told ET that once significant improvements are made, the network can be made available on major internet marketplaces, including fintech apps like PhonePe and ride-hailing apps.

Some of the internet companies like Paytm have also integrated their app with the government’s ecommerce network ONDC over the last year.

Kumar said that if Namma Yatri becomes successful, it will be expanded to other cities.

The government’s Beckn Protocol has also been used to develop an open mobility network in Kochi. ET had reported on December 21 that more than 7,600 rides have been completed on Kochi Open Mobility Network and the service is about to be integrated with ONDC.

These networks are seen as an alternative or counterweight to the rising duopolies in the Indian tech sector. Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart dominate the ecommerce sector, Zomato and SoftBank-backed Swiggy are the dominant players in the food delivery space.

The ride-hailing sector was considered a duopoly until the pandemic. But post-pandemic, there have been several category-specific players, like Rapido and BluSmart, emerging as a competitor to both Ola and Uber. ET had reported on May 22 last year that drivers are logging out of apps like Uber and Ola over rising fuel costs and lower incentives.

The development comes following multiple regulatory interventions by state governments across the country on the ride-hailing sector. The Karnataka High Court intervened and set a cap of 10% as commission on top of the fares set by the state government after the minimum fare of auto rickshaws in Bengaluru crossed Rs 100.

In late February, the Delhi government had put out a public notice saying that bike taxi services are not legal in the capital region. The notice warned bike taxi operators such as Rapido, Ola and Uber to not ply on Delhi roads, as it violates the motor vehicle laws. It said these companies could be fined up to Rs 1 lakh for rule violation, as the use of bikes for commercial purposes is against the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

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