Hike launches ‘Total’ to let users access services without data

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on January 18, 2018 Published on January 17, 2018

Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder & CEO, Hike, at a press conference in New Delhi, on Wednesday.

Plans to add government services like UMANG to the platform

Hike on Wednesday launched a new product called ‘Total, built by hike’, which will work without data or internet to send messages, recharge phones, payments, show live cricket scores and railways information.

And, the company is also looking at partnering with government to get more services into its platform.

“This is the first version and over the next two months we will work as closely as possible with people…we also hope to work closely with the government for services like Mygov, UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) app, etc…all working without data,” Kavin Mittal, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hike told BusinessLine.

‘Total’ is a refined version of Android targeted at the next billion people, he said, adding that this will pave the way for users to get on data by providing packs at as low as one rupee.

“For the next billion true mobile first users, coming online can be still quite complicated and intimidating. Simplify, simplify, simplify. That’s all we’ve been doing. We’ve taken the 15–20 step process of someone coming online and made it into only a few steps,” he said.

One can just buy a phone, turn it on and they are good to go. “Everything, all the essential services all work out of the box even without data,” he said.

Using USSD tech

To launch this product, Hike said it has worked with telecom partners to enable the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology and Data Upsell on Total.

USSD is a communication technology that is being in use for many years for sending text between a mobile phone and an application programme in the network. For instance, a customer typing *XXX# to check balance or recharge is simply based on USSD technology.

“USSD as a protocol are being used today. There are many applications including BHIM app that uses USSD. We are not the only ones who are building apps on USSD. But, these are owned by telcos because they are the licence holders. But, anybody who partners with telcos can launch such services,” Miital said.

He said the company has really simplified the usage and in future, is looking at bringing many other apps to the platform.

Ties up with telcos

The company has tied up with Airtel, Aircel and BSNL as the telecom partners as of now, which cover over 42 per cent of the telecom market. According to sources, the company is also in talks with Vodafone India for similar services.

On target customers, he said Hike as an app was targeted at the youth, Total is going to the mass market and older generations. “Total is our version of Android and we have worked a lot. And, this is totally a new product (not Hike) -- for users to come online and to make work without data,” he said.

Filed for patent

Mittal said the company has also filed for a patent for this particular service, so that similar platforms are not copied.

On the device side, Intex and Karbonn are the first smartphone partners. ‘Total, built by hike’ will be available on four models across Intex and Karbonn. The Intex devices include Aqua Lions N1, Aqua Lions T1 and Aqua Lions T1-Lite. And, Karbonn device is A40 Indian. The devices are scheduled to hit the markets starting March 1 and will be priced between ₹3,500 and ₹5,000, Mittal added.

Total users will also get up to ₹200 to spend on any of the services when they buy one of these devices, the company said.

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Published on January 17, 2018
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