New virtual telco in S'pore offers free subscription in exchange for referrals - insists it's not MLM

New virtual telco in S'pore offers free subscription in exchange for referrals - insists it's not MLM
PHOTO: Zero Mobile

A new virtual mobile telco called Zero Mobile, which is headquartered in Australia, will be launching in Singapore by this month.

Singapore is its first overseas market, making it the second virtual mobile telco here after Circles.Life.

Virtual telcos do not build their own physical mobile networks, but leases them wholesale from one of the existing telcos.

Zero Mobile's partner is Singtel, while Circles.Life works with M1.

Shrink Your Phone Bills With Referrals

For a foreign telco that is breaking into a new market, it is rather peculiar that it is charging new subscribers a "joining fee" of $50.

No other telco here currently imposes such fees.

Also, since the pricing plan is usually the deal breaker to get customers to subscribe, it is also interesting to note that its base plan is higher than local telcos'.

It charges $45 a month for 6GB of mobile data - this is about 60 per cent higher than the existing rates.

However, it also includes unlimited local calls, which is currently missing in competitors' base plans.

Beyond these, Zero Mobile also offers data add-ons at 1GB for $10, 3GB for $20, and 6GB for $30.

But the most compelling proposition of all is that is lets subscribers lower their bill costs if they refer Zero Mobile to others.

Photo: Zero Mobile

Customers can get a recurring credit of $9 per month for every person they refer to the service, capped at five.

With 5 active referred customers, a Zero Mobile subscriber can effectively enjoy free mobile services.

However, if someone discontinues the service, people who referred them will stop receiving the credits.

Circles.Life also has a referral programme in place, but it offers additional mobile data as a reward.

It also charges $28 a month for a similar plan, and offers a data add-on of 20GB for $20.

"Zero Mobile Is Not MLM" - CEO

"We have modelled our business in a manner where revenue derived directly from the subscriber is not our primary source of revenue," said Daniel Waters, Zero Mobile's chief operating officer, according to The Straits Times.

"We certainly do not classify it [the referral scheme] as a multi-level marketing strategy because this is a short-term campaign for three months only, and not our ongoing business model."

After the first three months, Zero Mobile will offer other promotions that allow users to drive down their bills to zero.

Mr Waters also shared that its Zero App - for service activation, billing, and managing subscription plans - will feature deals from undisclosed retail partners in fashion, electronics, gaming and travel.

Through this app, subscribers can also get discounts on their bill via the in-app marketplace.

Activation For Up To 5,000 Subscribers For Now

Zero Mobile will start activating its service around Christmas for up to 5,000 subscribers.

However, it is still unsure as to how many more customers it can activate every month thereafter.

Explaining the sign-up limit, Mr Waters told The Straits Times: "We have to ensure that we have a balance of inward revenue from other avenues on our platform while providing a quality, premium service to subscribers."

"Our first priority is our sustainability."

In the future, Zero Mobile will also have to compete with broadband provider MyRepublic, which has received a virtual mobile telco license from the Infocomm Media Development Authority. It is expected to offer services early next year.

Zero Mobile has four employees in Singapore now, but plans to hire another 20 over the next six weeks to fill software development, operations, marketing and sales positions.

It has also hired about 20 people in its Australian outfit, which was founded 14 months ago.

Sign-ups for Zero Mobile are currently closed, but you can register your interest here.

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