Thirty-three-year-old Vivid Tjipura, a qualified state prosecutor, has scooped a R100 000 prize for a concept of using mobile airtime as an emergency form of payment for taxi fare. The service, called Airtaxi, advances airtime to minibus taxi commuters if they run out.
Cape Town-based software development company Byte Orbit runs the Startup Knight competition for tech startups, currently in its second year. The “concept phase” category was introduced this year, along with the R100 000 cash prize. Airtaxi was selected as the winner after entries were narrowed down to eight finalists.
Namibian-born Tjipura says all finalists had to participate in a mentoring session earlier this month at Byte Orbit’s Durbanville offices before pitching their ideas. Airtaxi received mentorship from RSAWeb co-founder Rob Gilmour and Groupon South Africa CEO Daniel Guasco.
Tjipura has been living in South Africa for more than 10 years, and even though he is a qualified state prosecutor, he is working as a creative strategist in the marketing and advertising industry and also focuses on mobile start-up ventures.
The Airtaxi service is aimed at the estimated 20m South African commuters who use minibus taxis every week. Tjipura is working with a major financial institution to bring the product to market, but can’t disclose which one yet. He wants to bring Airtaxi to the market in early 2014 using USSD, and then with applications on BlackBerry, followed by Android and iOS.
Airtaxi will work based on inner-city minibus taxi fares in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The service will get consent from participating taxi drivers, who will sign up using their mobile numbers. Airtaxi will then send the fare to the driver, with a small commission, and once the passenger is transported and next loads airtime, the fare will be deducted automatically.
The commission sent to the taxi driver will be paid for by the unnamed financial institution Airtaxi is working with.
Passenger transactions are limited to once every five days, or until users have reloaded airtime sufficient to cover the cost of their previous transaction. The situation can be avoided if passengers load Airtaxi “credits” in advance, thus creating a float.
Taxi drivers or owners will then be allowed to trade airtime with participating fuel stations to get more fuel than they would normally, thereby allowing the service station to buy airtime at a discount and resell it to consumers at normal cost. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media