Mobile penetration to grow with virtual SIM
Posted October 15, 2009on:
Comviva, formerly known as Bharti Telesoft, has launched the virtual SIM and handset concept in Cameroon eight months ago, which is likely to increase mobile penetration like never before, helping people without the financial ability to afford a handset, to have mobile connections.
In the 21st century, mobile telephony is scripting a new chapter that underscores its billing as the economic change agent for under-privileged masses in Cameroon. A virtual mobile SIM works this way: a potential user approaches any mobile operator, registers for a SIM and is allotted a number. The user can top up that number by an affordable amount and receive or make calls from any phone. The user can also have all other facilities like SMS, content, weather updates or any other value-added service as in any regular mobile connection.
Once the virtual number is inserted into any handset, the user’s ‘personality’ resides in the gadget as in a dual SIM format, and the user can receive or make calls from that handset. Once a call gets ended, it depends on the users to delete the number residing in that handset, or retain it there if more calls are expected on that handset.
Sangeet Chowfla, Chief Strategy Officer of Comviva says, “The concept dramatically increases the affordability of a mobile connection for the economically underprivileged. For someone with a low disposable income, the cost of even a $50 handset can mean 180 days’ savings. The virtual SIM concept can cut that by a factor of six.”
This concept was introduced with an aim of catering financially marginalized population, but later on it has also appealed to unintended user groups, including businessmen who prefer to have a different SIM to use while speaking to a certain group of their contacts, and youngsters who prefer to have dual numbers to interact with different friends’ circles.
The virtual SIM is being considered as a boon for low-income families that cannot afford multiple handsets. Family members can top up their personal virtual numbers with payment upfront, feed their numbers into the common handset and receive and make calls from the same handset without having anyone else to bear the tariff for their personal usage.
Success in the Cameroon venture, where virtual SIM users are learnt to be making five million calls per month, has stirred Comviva to launch the facility in partnership with local operators in different markets, with East Africa, Bangladesh and India to be the early markets for launch.