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Three Wheels United launches app to drive inclusion

Three Wheels United (TWU) was founded by Enviu in 2010 aiming for a sustainable urban transportation system by drastically reducing air pollution while simultaneously improving the livelihoods of auto-rickshaw drivers and their families. The company does this by providing affordable and accessible loans for rickshaw drivers to finance the ownership of electric auto-rickshaws.

From the start, TWU has put the customer, the auto-rickshaw drivers, at the centre of the business and co-created its financial products to fit the needs of its clients. Now, the recent launch of their new app ‘Auto-Pranaya’ allows them to bring their business to a new level.

Banks in India tend not to loan money to rickshaw drivers, forcing the drivers to lend from loan sharks or work for exploitative rickshaw fleet owners. In 2011, after successfully proving that lending to drivers was viable and possible, Three Wheels United decided to fill this market gap. They started as a financial intermediary, and operate since 2017 as a Non-Banking Financial Company. To maximize its impact for rickshaw drivers, TWU worked to increase its efficiency and efficacy by continuously standardizing, automazing, and digitizing their operations. Recently, they launched an innovative new app, Auto-Pranaya, to reach the next level in this ambition.

Prayana means journey in Kaneda

Auto-Prayana, a financial agency app

In 2016, Three Wheels United partnered up with Microsoft Research India. Together, they built a platform to digitize all loan operations. Based on the mined data, TWU analyses its processes, profiles its customers. This, to develop products and services tailored to the needs of its agents and clients. With the Auto-Prayana app, Three Wheels United connects and interacts with agents and clients, on an individual level.

Auto-Pranaya eases the work for financial agents and helps them to improve their performances. For example, the app intelligently prioritizes which driver needs follow up, on a real-time basis. Or, based on aggregated data of all agents, Three Wheels United can distinguish best practices. Which follow-up activities are most effective; calling or visiting? Moreover, via gamification and financial incentives, agents are stimulated to reach more drivers. When an agent underperforms, the transparency provides the possibility to intervene and solve the bottlenecks together.

And, most importantly, Auto-Pranaya enables auto-rickshaw drivers to become agents of their own financial health. Of course, auto-rickshaw drivers can follow their loan and payment status via the app, but there is more. The app has been designed to build drivers financial capability, whilst encouraging agency in financial management, despite drivers often uncertain conditions. To achieve this, Auto-Prayana uses nudges and gamification. For example, drivers’ payment patterns are tracked and drivers who adhere well to the loan can be rewarded. If this payment pattern persists, they can even be offered a new contract via the app. On the other hand, when drivers show infrequent payment behaviour, Auto-Pranaya sends them educational movies, tailored to their behaviour.

As such, by leveraging big data, TWU increases its potential impact. TWU can reach more customers at controllable costs, and -more importantly- address the needs of Rickshaw drivers concerning financial services even more accurately and encourage financial agency.

This is only the start

Currently, the app is already available to loan- and community agents. Some of them are also testing the app with their drivers, engaging about 200 drivers. Agents show the app to their drivers to communicate about their personal status or to give them incentives. In a couple of months, Auto-Pranaya will be deployed directly to the drivers as well.

And this is only seen as the start. The Auto-Pranaya App has the opportunity to collect a load of data, as it tracks all history of payments and the money trail (who collected the money, where, when and how has it been allocated). This big data collection creates an endless array of possibilities to support drivers with their loans, such as targeting interventions at the most needy drivers, testing several financial education tools and identify and design new financial services that match their needs.

And the leveraged insights will also be used beyond loan management, to offer services that improve driver income. TWU is exploring the possibility to help auto-rickshaw drivers to enhance their routes. They can do this by comparing routes. And TWU already partnered with the metro-network to be able to inform Rickshaw drivers on traffic flows, busy metro stations.

Through its collaboration with Microsoft Research, TWU illustrates how technology and data will enable financial providers to provide costumer centric products and services that create a real positive impact on customers’ financial health, literacy and inclusion.

During the following months, TWU, Microsoft Research India and Enviu will continue to develop and evaluate Auto-Prayana. At a later stage, Enviu will share these developments and learnings in more depth. Eager to get in touch already? Contact kevin@enviu.org.