Gorilla Mobile founder Xanne Leo

Do you make full use of the mobile subscription plan that you pay for, or are you simply paying extra for something that you have never used or will never use?

If you are someone who falls under the second category, a new telco startup in Singapore is here to change your ‘destiny’. This blockchain telco is urging you to take a closer look at its unique mobile package subscription model.

The two-year-old startup Gorilla Mobile has rolled out a service-on-demand model, called ‘SwitchBack’, which converts your unused data into redeemable non-expiring ‘Gorilla Go Tokens’. You can use these tokens to redeem other services like international direct dialling calls and travel roaming data.

Founded in 2019, Gorilla Mobile originally started as travel SIM card company that focused on business travellers who had plenty of unused travel roaming data.

The startup has already raised US$3 million in seed capital and targets to close a US$5 million Series A round shortly. The money will be used for developing its product roadmap and expanding into Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam in the first phase.

The telco startup intends to enter Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan in the longer term.

In this interview with e27, Gorilla Mobile founder Xanne Leo talks about its business model, its marketing strategy and trends in the telecom sector.

How did you come up with the idea of SwitchBack for users?

The objective was to address the issue of unused travel roaming data for business travellers.

By converting the unused roaming data into digital tokens Gorilla GO, users can reuse them to purchase another data plan in a different city or country. This is perfect for business travellers who may have their trips cut short or those on multi-city business trips.

Also Read: Singapore’s new virtual telco Zero Mobile offers subscribers chance to use service for free

Think of Gorilla GO like a carnival coupon where you can use the coupon universally and interchangeably at any stall in the carnival. In our case, you can use Gorilla GO with any telco service across 61 countries.

What is Gorilla Mobile’s business model? Can you talk about the pricing?

Gorilla Mobile runs on a service-on-demand model, the first in Singapore. This model provides access to a full suite of services anytime without a contract, subscription fees, or activation charges. Users pay only for what they use, when they use it, ensuring a fair and modular way of using and paying for mobile services.

Right now, customers can sign up for Gorilla Mobile’s Switch25 Mobile plan at SG$25 (US$33) 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 dialling (IDD), and global office telephonic solutions.

What are the different marketing strategies you have taken to educate the market about your offerings?

We launched our Switch25 Mobile plan on 18 June 2021. In line with the launch, Gorilla Mobile has rolled out the #RethinkMobile campaign on its website, calling on Singaporeans to look at their mobile phone bills and examine their mobile package subscription and actual usage: what they are paying for versus what they actually use.

Low prices have always been the motto of many telco companies. Aside from providing tokens, what are some other reasons that users should subscribe to Gorilla Mobile?

Our service-on-demand model is the first in Singapore. This is one of the reasons why we stand out.

Other than this, telecommunications services are traditionally offered to users in a fragmented way and give a disjointed user experience. For example, we rely on an on-premise office telephony system for calls while at work and we switch to our mobile phones while on the go or at home.

The pandemic situation has changed all that for us; the partial work-from-home and work-from-outside arrangements have dramatically changed the way we communicate.

Many companies are removing on-premise telephony servers and equipment, switching to cloud-based unified communication solutions, and using a mix of communication tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams with their mobile phones and softphones on laptops.

This change is definitely here to stay.

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Seeing this shift, Gorilla Mobile will be introducing our Digital Office Telephony services in our mobile app in Q4 this year. We are converging the cellular mobile network services and office telephony capabilities and digital IDD services in the mobile app and offering it as an all-in-one mobile communications solution.

More than an mobile virtual network operator, we see ourselves as a mobile communications service provider offering a full suite of digital mobile services and a unified experience for today’s PMETS and businesses.

What are the key trends you’re identifying in emerging markets around digital transformation and telcos?

Converging trends hold great promise for the next generation of digital financial inclusion.

There are various blockchain technology platforms reinventing finance for the mobile era and have created decentralised financial systems that are fair, safe, and universally accessible. Without mobile data and high-fidelity connectivity, this would not be possible.

Gorilla Mobile recognises data as an enabler for digital financial inclusion. We advocate for affordable seamless global mobile connectivity to drive mobile money access for one and all. It is a right for the common man to access basic financial services.

As of 2019, there were 1.04 billion registered mobile payment accounts and 37.1 billion transactions transacting approximately US$690 billion yearly across the globe. The market grew 20 per cent during 2019, and it is expected to maintain that positive trend over the coming years.

More value is circulating in the mobile money system. The total value in circulation has significantly surpassed the total value of outgoing transactions.

The common users of mobile are using it to make small transactions or just to send money to other users. The ‘micro’ transaction costs and the friendly process of using mobile money between users are some of the key factors that will help to maintain the growing demand for mobile money.

This growth and scale is a positive signal for the industry as it demonstrates higher levels of customer trust, greater relevance for users, and the capacity of mobile money to digitise an increasing amount of capital.

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Image Credit: Gorilla Mobile

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