The lack of innovation in Singapore’s telco industry | Singapore Business Review - The Latest News, Headlines, Insight, Commentary & Analysis
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The lack of innovation in Singapore’s telco industry

And how one telco startup is determined to change it.

Singapore’s telco market is highly competitive, with market players offering more data at cheaper rates. 

With the internet as a regular part of everyone’s lives, more mobile data for consumers sounds like the right move for industry players; however, Singapore-based telco startup, Gorilla Mobile, seems to think differently.

Founded in 2019, Gorilla Mobile was initially a travel SIM card company that wanted to address the issue of unused travel roaming data for business travellers. Unused roaming data can be converted to Gorilla GO, a blockchain-powered digital token that users can use to purchase mobile services in a different city or country—perfect for business travellers who may have their trips cut short or those on multi-city business trips. 

The telco startup launched earlier this year, but their original plan was to launch across ASEAN last May 2020. Because of the pandemic, however, countries and borders closed, forcing Gorilla Mobile to postpone its plans.

“We had to put our launch plans on hold despite having invested a considerable amount of resources. We also closed our Malaysian sales office because of extended lockdown periods in the country and to save overhead costs. We are targeting to expand to Malaysia and Thailand within the next 18 months once travel restrictions are lifted,” Gorilla Mobile Founder and CEO Xanne Leo said.

Gorilla Mobile offers a full suite of digital smart solutions tailored for today’s professionals, managers, executives and technicians, as well as local and global businesses. Singapore offers the perfect target audience for the launch, with many businesses serving the region and the world.

Customers can sign up for Gorilla Mobile’s Switch25 Mobile plan through the Gorilla Mobile website. In the coming months, we will unveil new services including a Global Roaming Travel Data SIM Card, Digital International Direct Dialing, and Global Office Telephony solutions.

Too much data

Gorilla Mobile runs on what it calls a Service-on-Demand model, a first in the country. 

According to Xanne, this model provides access to a full suite of services, anytime, without a contract, subscription fees, or activation charges. 

This allows users to pay only for what they use, when they use it, ensuring a fair and modular way of using and paying for mobile services.

“Complementing Gorilla’s model of fairness and user-centricity is its proprietary SwitchBack technology, powered by blockchain. Gorilla’s SwitchBack enables users to fully ‘switch back’ unused mobile data to offset their bills, purchase or exchange for other in-app services, or simply share it with their co-workers and team members. Unlike other telcos, there is no expiry for unused data. This sets Gorilla Mobile apart from its peers and further demonstrates its commitment to fair mobile solutions, designed with users in mind,” Xanne explained.

The way Xanne sees it, even though the telco industry in Singapore is highly competitive, with 12 others competing in the market, there has been little real innovation.

Xanne observed that telcos just continue to dump more data for consumers and compete over how cheap they can get their data packages.

“There is an underserved market segment of low-moderate data users including small business segments, remote working professionals, and the frequent travellers segment. Differentiated offerings that fulfil their requirements should be made available for these target segments. We believe our Service-on Demand offering will revolutionise the industry and offer a truly innovative experience,” Xanne added.

Currently, Gorilla Mobile is planning to launch its services across Asia starting with Malaysia and Thailand which would eventually expand across the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

To help boost these expansion plans, the telco startup is in talks with several venture capitalists firms to raise US$5m in a Series A funding round. This is on top of the company’s initial US$3m seed capital raised from private investors.

“We foresee a future where technology transforms a huge percentage of applications to be built on top of a transparent and secure framework, such as permissionless blockchains and other peer-to-peer protocols. Gorilla Mobile is well-positioned for the future, enabling consumers and businesses to access seamless worldwide mobile connectivity,” Xanne said.

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