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The tipping point could have come in August, when the number of Indians with mobile phones crossed 200 million. Perhaps that was the critical mass that would have convinced transaction-led services companies to go beyond the internet and tap the mobile platform.

By Pallavi Srivastava        Print Edition: Nov 4, 2007

The tipping point could have come in August, when the number of Indians with mobile phones crossed 200 million. Perhaps that was the critical mass that would have convinced transaction-led services companies to go beyond the internet and tap the mobile platform. Kingfisher Airlines is one such company that’s doing exactly that.

In a tie-up with PayMate, an Mcommerce solutions company, the Vijay Mallya-owned airline has flagged off FlyBuySms, a first-ofits-kind service in India through which a Kingfisher Airlines ticket can be booked anywhere, anytime, through the mobile messaging service. The service does not require a registration, or downloading of any application. Cost to the customer: SMS charges of Rs 2-3.

Explains Vikram Malhotra, Head-Marketing, Kingfisher Airlines: “It’s an extremely convenient method—a truly anytime and anywhere end-to-end solution for our customers and strategic to us from a selling point of view.” Malhotra adds that the service will be available for sister airline Air Deccan by the year-end.

Kingfisher is not the only company that has decided to go the SMS way. Life insurance companies ING Vysya Life Insurance and Max New York Life have also launched premium pay service through SMS (the latter has also tied up with two banks to offer premium pay services through ATMs).

Early this year, PayMate tied up with Citibank and retail establishments like Future Bazaar, Planet M, CRS Health and Gold Cabs for SMS-based mobile payment solutions. The SMS-based mobile payment solution is being seen as the safest way of making payments in the wake of large number of credit card frauds coming to light. “This is going to be a bigger market than online in terms of transactions,” says Ajay Adiseshann, Managing Director and Founder, PayMate. He believes mobile phones will have a far greater reach than the internet.

Recently Google announced the launch of its SMS search service ‘Google SMS’ for mobile users in India. Subscribers of the Airtel, Aircel, BPL, BSNL and Reliance networks can use Google Search through SMS by sending a text message to the short code 54664 (5GOOG) on their mobile phones.

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