Singapore’s mobile scene heats up with the entry of Circles.Life
By Benjamin Cher May 6, 2016
- ‘We are launching a digital telco platform, a new way of looking at a telco’
- Unlimited WhatsApp use, digital customer service, bonus data and data boosts
EVEN as Singapore prepares for the possible entry of a fourth telco, new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Circles.Life is already churning the waters with its launch yesterday (May 5).
This will be Singapore’s second large-scale MVNO attempt after Virgin Mobile Asia, a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), shuttered operations in 2002, only a year after launch.
READ ALSO: Does Singapore have too many telcos?
Circles.Life is a brand under Liberty Wireless, which last July signed an agreement with incumbent M1 Ltd to utilise its network.
The MVNO will be offering postpaid mobile plans for the “digital-savvy customer,” according to Circles.Life cofounder and director Rameez Ansar.
“Nothing much has happened in the telco space in a long time with regards to new entrants,” he said, adding that the company was hoping to provide a new way of looking at telcos and a new model that it can prove in Singapore, before taking it abroad.
“First, we are launching a digital telco platform, a new way of looking at a telco which hopefully will bring many innovations along the way,” Rameez told a media briefing at the launch.
“Second, our first set of product offerings and price plans are the start of many surprises and interesting things to come,” he declared.
Circles.Life is offering a monthly base plan of 3GB of data with 100 minutes of talk-time for S$28 (US$20) a month.
Subscribers can structure the plan as they wish, with more data going at S$6 (US$4) per GB per month, S$4 (US$2) per 100 minutes talk-time per month, and SMS at S$4 (US$2) per 100 SMS per month.
These plans can be changed on a month-to-month basis, without the need for any contracts.
Circles.Life also offers roaming services, piggybacking on M1’s roaming partner network.
Ragers vs the machines
The data-savvy customer in Singapore has a long list of gripes against the telcos that Circles.Life will address, declared Rameez (pic above).
These gripes include bad customer service, long contracts, complicated pricing, and the dreaded bill shock.
Data-savvy users are “too diverse to be put into inflexible plans,” he said, adding that Circles.Life estimates this segment makes up 15-20% of the Singapore market.
The company has also put in a lot of effort into an analytics-fuelled backend to help it understand and respond to customer needs more quickly and effectively, he claimed.
Its agreement with M1 allows it to focus on the service layer, without having to worry about the physical infrastructure, he added.
“At the end of the day, it is all about customers – we built our analytics engine to try and understand your usage and figure out what you want more, and to offer it to you with a click of a button,” said Rameez.
On the front-end, customers can choose a variety of plans online, and better manage their plans with an app.
“You can choose whether you want to get a handset or not, you can pay upfront or pay zero dollars, all online,” said Rameez.
“We’re seamlessly integrated with the banks, and you can choose a payment cycle of up to 24 months,” he added.
DBS and UOB are already on board as banking partners, with Circles.Life looking to sign up more, he added.
Sweetening the deal
Circles.Life will also be throwing in a bunch of features for free, such as unlimited WhatsApp call or messaging, Caller ID, plan changes, roaming and 4G (Fourth Generation) network access.
This is part of its key value propositions, according to Rameez, with the first being ‘boost.’
“Boost makes sure you never see the screen that says you have run out of data – you never have be anxious about how much data you use because we are watching out for you, we’re analysing your usage,” he said.
“Whenever you are close to that data limit, instead of paying 10 dollars, you actually see the screen that tells you that you can top up now, and that means you can stop worrying about your data limit and you actually pay less because you never incur that excess charge,” he added.
Circles.Life offers data boosts at S$1 (US$0.74) for 100MB, S$2 (US$1) for 250MB, and S$3.50 (US$2.50) for 500MB.
The second value proposition is bonus data.
“How do we build an infrastructure that rewards people instead of putting in contracts and penalties with strict rules? Give them a reward for staying on the network,” said Rameez.
“Because of our mobile infrastructure, we can push that bonus to you when you do certain things, so the first time you activate the app, you get a bonus; when you refer a friend, you get a bonus; when you stay with our network, your bonus grows; when you visit our partners, your data grows,” he added.
Circles.Life is currently offering a promotional 2GB of bonus data for people who register immediately, which will last for as long as they remain a customer. The base plan includes 500MB of bonus data as well.
The MVNO has partners lined up which it will be “announcing soon,” according to Rameez.
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