Code Bytes: The company, which claims 100 million users on its platform, has been working for six months on Total, with the aim of making basic services available to people who are yet to experience the mobile web for the first time – and eventually get them online to experience the full suite of Hike Messenger’s services. And it’s actually rather ingenious.
Instant messaging app Hike on Wednesday launched Total, a product that will allow users to access essential services such as messaging, news and recharge among others without an active data connection. Hike Total – a version of Android preloaded on certain smartphones – will be accessible to users for starting price of Re. 1, and Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO, Hike said the company’s goal is to bring more Indians online with Total. The company is using a proprietary USSD-based technology to enable data transfer without an Internet connection.
Hike says Total has four key elements that make the end-to-end experience extremely seamless. Users only need to provide a single login via a phone number to access all Total services, such as messaging, news, horoscope, buying recharge, sending or receiving money in Hike wallet, cricket scores and rail information, which take between 100kb to 1MB data.
Plus, it’s optimized Total services, which also include horoscopes, sports scores, and access to your Hike digital wallet, to fit into tiny data packets that can be swiftly transmitted via USSD. And it allows payments through both its own digital wallet, as well as via India’s nationwide Universal Payments Interface (UPI) protocol that allows for free money transfers between bank accounts.
In addition, Hike has partnered with major local carriers Airtel, Aircel, and BSNL to make low-cost data packs available through Total, with prices starting at Re. 1 ($0.02) for 20MB at 4G speeds. While using Total, certain functions – such as viewing media-rich news with photos, or sending pictures – will prompt users to buy data.
It’s a clever onboarding scheme with a whole lot of smart proprietary tech behind it. Hike says that the first four phones preloaded with Total will become available across India in March. It’ll be interesting to see how this helps Hike grow beyond its current user base (which seems to have stagnated since January 2016), and if it can truly help more people in India get online more easily.