Contactless cards and 'ATMs' bring clean water to India's poor

Contactless cards and 'ATMs' bring clean water to India's poor

An Indian social enterprise is using contactless pre-paid cards and ATM-style machines to bring clean drinking water to the country's poor.

Founded in 2008 by charity the Piramal Foundation, Savajal - 'water for all' in Sanskrit - aims to make it easier for India's slum-dwellers to access water.

The 'Water ATMs' are essentially large tanks with sensors monitoring water pressure and filtration that are maintained by franchisees.

The tanks have a touchscreen against which users tap their pre-paid card. The system then verifies the account, checks to make sure that the water is clean and invites the user to choose how much they want.

Savajal says that the 'ATM' method is designed to make sure that water is available 24 hours a day, rather than only when an employee is around to man the tanks.

The company is also betting that the convenience and time-saving benefits of its machines will see India's poor willing to pay around one cent a litre for water rather than get it for free from the government.

So far 35 Water ATMs have been installed in urban areas, with another 50 set to be added in the coming months across slum redevelopment communities in Delhi, according to Gigaom.

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 06 September, 2013, 10:12Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Nice, and you can see the benefits of this service in a community where there is no other way to get safe water, but to give a little context that's around three times the price UK households pay for potable water.