BlaBlaCar Hitches a Ride with Nexmo

Published March 08, 2016 by Cyprien Godard

Today, I’m excited to share how we have been helping BlaBlaCar, one of the largest ridesharing companies in the world, connect non-professional drivers with passengers. You can check out our press release that gives a good overview of the 100,000+ messages per day we handle for BlaBlaCar across Europe and beyond, and I wanted to expand on what we do for them, and why it makes a big difference (not just for BlaBlaCar, but also for the larger travel and sharing economy industries).

Who Does What?
As you may know, driving long distances in Europe is expensive — with petrol and tolls adding to the cost of basic car depreciation. BlaBlaCar helps non-professional drivers offset costs by connecting them to people who want to pool and contribute to gas money. Also, drivers have spare capacity, that they can share and therefore reduce fuel consumption per person. Why are they different from other car sharing companies like Uber, Lyft and GrabTaxi? BlaBlaCar riders don’t gain any profit from their rides – they just split costs with their passengers. By allowing people to share resources, people are traveling for much less the cost than traditional ways, helping to revitalize the European travel industry.

To sign up for BlaBlaCar, we text people a one-time-password to help verify their ID. Once a person has signed up, BlaBlaCar matches two people who want to share a ride and the company uses our SMS API to notify the people they have matched. We do this by setting up LVNs, or long virtual numbers, so the numbers appear like they are coming from within the traveler’s country, and then is re-assigned a short period of time after the trip has been completed.

This allows BlaBlaCar to quickly, reliably and safely connect people across Europe.

When a Text Becomes a Business Critical Communication
There are other bulk SMS providers that BlaBlaCar could have chosen, but BlaBlaCar needed Nexmo’s global cloud communications platform to ensure messages were being delivered and on time. There is nothing worse when you are waiting to receive an update from a person or a company than when you are relying on them to get you where you need to be.

This reflects how communications, and customer experience, can be critical for a company, especially within the sharing economy and for travel companies. They understand that as the consumer’s expectation of quality of customer experience increases, communications has become a business critical need with speed, reliability and ubiquity becoming the gold standard.