When online payments were not heard of in India, say in the first decade of this century, the method for recharging a prepaid connection like Airtel prepaid recharge meant that:-
- The Airtel user recharges the connection by going to a local recharge store. The guy would be typically selling recharge coupons for all the service providers. There, the user needed to select a plan and on payment of cash money, the user would be given anAirtel scratch card worth the value of the money he paid. This card needed to be scratched to reveal a number. There would be specific instructions mentioned on the card on how to initiate the recharge, how to input the number on the card using your mobile and finally a message from Airtel would beep confirming recharge.
- The Airtel user could visit a designated Airtel showroom or recharge cum customer care centre, and inform the customer care executive on the plan that he wish to top-up with. The latter half of the process remains the same as in above. Often the customer care executive would give suggestion and information on various available Airtel prepaid recharge plans.
The scratch card is still used for Airtel prepaid recharge in cities, towns and villages where internet has not reached and online payments are still a distant dream. The other alternate to the physical scratchable card system was to visit either of the two options above where the local reseller or the customer care executive would automatically top-up by connecting to an Airtel phone number. The customer would then pay in cash on receiving a confirmation of the recharge on his handset.
When online payment was introduced in urban parts of the country in the first half of this decade, it seemed as if all other existing methods of Airtel prepaid recharge were turned upside down. In fact people living in these parts of the country have got so used to this system of online recharge by now that there is a great sense of empathy in them for people living in the other parts of the country who are still using the pre-digital methods of recharging their prepaid connections.
In India, it is the prepaid connection that is more popular than postpaid connection. About 95.6% of the total subscriber base in India has the prepaid connection and as per latest reports many postpaid subscribers are also changing their mobile connections to the prepaid mode. This is because prepaid connections are much cheaper and offer value for money compared to the expensive postpaid connection. Also the fact that the recharge plans from different cellular operators are available for different validity periods, some that is valid for as less as few hours up to few months and a year too, at times. So one can choose as per one’s preference and requirement! With the option of online recharge, the virtual world is now available right at the doorstep of the prepaid subscriber.