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Ola And Uber: Boon Or Bane?

Smruthi Kishore

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Technology is supposed to make life easier. Food, shopping, travelling and finance can be completed with just a click or with a swipe. Technology progressed rapidly in a very short span in ways that did not seem possible till just a while ago. The last couple of years have seen a drastic rise in technology based startups. These startups have helped mankind in every way possible. Or so it seems. Taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber came as a relief to all those hassled travellers for whom private transport was not an option and who could not get to their destinations using public transport.

Ola and Uber came at a time when public transport was at its worst. Women were gropped, men were robbed and drivers were harsh. Public transport was out of the question, especially after the 2012 Nirbhaya case. Keeping this in mind, these taxi aggregators helped give riders a veil of safety in these dark circumstances. However, the little respite riders got seemed to disappear almost over night. While there are some good drivers with both Ola and Uber,  there are a few bad apples in the basket.

Pepper spray is a must have for me when I use either Ola or Uber for my travels,” says disgruntled user, Nishita. Safety is not just one of the things riders have a problem with these cab aggregators. Rain is a beautiful thing, but when Ola and Uber use it to boost cab prices, then this very rain is far from beautiful. Ride prices surge, drivers turn ugly and the whole situation turns into a B rated movie of sorts.

When Ola was first launched in India, it had two very strong incentives – the first ride free for new users and first ride free for referrals. This gave Ola a very loyal user base from the minute the app launched. Cut to a few months later, Uber tried it’s hand in the Indian marketplace and currently counts India as it’s second largest market. However, the honeymoon phase is over and reality reared its ugly head. What seemed to be a win win situation, in the beginning, has is now become an ugly menace. Several customers have faced multiple issues when trying to commute using such applications.

The cab aggregators while promising a smooth service, cannot be bothered with when it comes to customer care. The result is usually unhappy customers stranded, extorted and disgusted. “I have given up trying to get in touch with Ola’s Customer Care. They always have an automated answer and at the end of the matter, there is never a solution to the matter,” says Anita, a resident of Hyderabad.

 

Ola and Uber gave travellers everywhere the hope of comfort and travelling without hassles. The world, seen through tinted rose glasses, seems like a beautiful place. However, what happens when these glasses are taken off? Ola and Uber have become a bane rather than a boon and people are tired of being appeased by the nonsense these cab aggregators give in terms of an excuse for their crap service!

An informal survey revealed the obvious. From drivers cancelling rides half way through the ride to creepy advances on the riders, nothing seems to be going in Ola’s or Uber’s favour. It is not just the drivers that have gotten a bad name. Back end service does not work right, the arrival time is always sketchy and drivers are rude, arrogant and abusive. Buck up Ola and Uber, it is time to get your act together and give us the service you promised! We are not the unsophisticated cave dwellers you clearly seem to think we are. Own up. Take responsibility. Drive our lives back into the happy world it used to be in the beginning, because honestly if you keep this up, we will not be the loyal customers we have been so far.

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Virgin Hyperloop To Transform Indian Transportation System!

Smruthi Kishore

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Sir Richard Branson led transportation startup Virgin Hyperloop, has signed a framework agreement with the Maharashtra Government to build a Hyperloop transport system between Mumbai and Pune. The high speed travel system will reduce the travel time between the two cities to 25 minutes from the current travel time of 3 hours.
The installation of this system, combined with an operational demonstration track would make India the first country to host a hyperloop system. India may also debut the high speed transport system before Middle East, Northern Europe or even the United States of America. However, it may take at least another 3 years to complete the test run and 6 more years to start commercial operations.
During the Magnetic Maharashtra event, Virgin Group Founder and Virgin Hyperloop One chairman, Sir Richard Branson announced the framework agreement in the presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis. At present, Virgin Hyperloop has the capacity to travel up to 1,000 km per hour. However, according to reports, the current Hyperloop system is expected to function at 350 km per hour.
The route is likely to come up in parallel to the Mumbai Pune Expressway and will be built without any resettlement of residential areas. The project will begin after six months of assessment on the feasibility and durability. This initial period of six months will define details like route alignment, environmental impact and commercial viability of the project. Only after the initial study will the work on the construction of the Hyperloop begin.
The demonstration track will be constructed in two to three years and serve as a platform for testing, certifying, and regulating the system for commercial operations. The second phase will target to complete construction of the full Pune Mumbai route by 2025. With easier access to airport roads, the Hyperloop will be able to ferry across 150 million passengers. The result of this Hyperloop is to ensure the creation of a connection between nearly 72 million people across Maharashtra, Pune and Karnataka.

“The proposed Hyperloop transportation system will transform the transportation system and make Maharashtra a global pioneer in the space. The socioeconomic benefits of the project is $55 billion (Rs. 3,54,750 crore),” Branson said, claiming that the project will create thousands of jobs.

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How To Use WhatsApp Payments Feature In India

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WhatsApp the online messaging service launched their payments feature on Sunday. The United Payment Interface, UPI platform, is now live on the iOS as well as on Android devices. It is interesting to note here, India is the first country in the world to get this feature! So far, this feature has only been made available in the beta version and will soon be made available in the updated versions.

With the introduction of the payments option, WhatsApp has become more than just a messaging service. The newly rolled out payments feature lets users transfer money to their WhatsApp contacts through the app. By introducing this feature, these UPI based payments feature is squashing all competition and other online wallets in India. Further, this feature also allows users to transfer money directly from their bank accounts to anyone instantly.

WhatsApp payments option is now available in two places on the app, settings option and below the attachment icon when you open a particular chat. It is very similar to other mobile wallets like Paytm, Mobikwick and Tez. However, WhatsApp payments app as of now does not support payment option for merchants. This feature can only be used for bank to bank money transfer.

Things to keep in mind before using WhatsApp UPI feature on your phone
* The foremost factor that the sender should keep in mind is that user’s WhatsApp number should be the same as the number linked to the bank account along with UPI option activated.
* Before using the payments feature the sender and the receiver must ensure both their phones have the latest WhatsApp version.
Here is how you can use the app
For Android users the payments option is already available. However, iOS users will eventually get the feature in the upcoming days. Users can head on to settings and select the payments option, or users can also directly go to the chatbox of the contact they wish to transfer money and select the payments option. Users can verify their UPI option activated phone number via SMS, or simply create a UPI account with a pin via WhatsApp.
The advantage of the WhatsApp payments feature is the ease of tracking the payment via the payment history option. WhatsApp also notifies the sender and the receiver about the money transfer. This peer to peer payment service would be available for every user soon. This application makes it easier for businesses to connect with customers and vice versa. The major purpose of this feature is to ensure the widespread usability of WhatsApp.

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Is The Cryptocurrency And Bitcoin Era Over?

Smruthi Kishore

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Cryptocurrencies saw a sudden rise in the recent times. At present, there are atleast ten popular digital currencies that are ruling the virtual currency industry, with Bitcoin standing on the top. However, despite reaching a high valuation of $ 20,000 in December, the value of Bitcoin dipped by more than 50 % on Friday.

Bitcoin’s price dipped below $8,000 for the first time in 11 weeks in the midst of a broader cryptocurrency sell off. On 2 February, 2018, the value of Bitcoin dipped to $ 7,695.10. Even though it bounced back and regained some of its lost value, Bitcoin stands a little over $ 8,000, the only lowest position in its history.
This is not the first time Bitcoin fell by such an enormous percentage. This has happened not once, but five times in the past and each time, Bitcoin has bounced back with renewed vigour and strength. What is different this time is, the other cryptocurrencies are steadily declining as well. The year 2017 ended on a high note for these digital currencies. Unfortunately, this trend has not followed in the current year.
Ripple has been facing a steady crash and stands at a value of $0.70, the lowest it has been at since 14 December, 2017. Although Ethereum reached $ 1,358.45 on 14 January, 2018, after significant troughs and peaks, fell way down to $ 827.67 on 2 February, 2018. This alternative rise and fall of the cryptocurrency values have been credited to the regulations issued by the Asian markets.
South Korea brought in regulatory legislation affecting the Bitcoin market, while China has closed some cryptocurrency exchanges and banned all Initial Coin Offerings. India is the latest country to act against the cryptocurrency movement as it makes moves to curb the use of Bitcoin for illegal activity. Looking at this negative impact, it seems as if the rise in Bitcoin popularity has also increased a lot of regulations.
This alternating rise and fall system brings to mind one important question. With the value of the top three cryptocurrencies in the world falling below their original highs, is it safe to say the era of cryptocurrencies is coming to a close? Is this the end of the digital currency world or will the virtual world finally be incorporated into the real world?

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