Prepaid credit that lasts a year long is all the rage here now. Maxis started the ball rolling with Hotlink 365, DiGi swiftly countered that by offering year long credit validity when customers top up RM100 in one go.
It’s a small step forward in the right direction but it’s still a long way off from what an aspiring Australian MVNO has managed to come up with.
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Prepaid credits that last a ridiculously short amount of time is just one of the low-blow tricks used by telcos to increase ARPU of prepaid customers.
With finite credit validity period, customers are forced to top-up to keep their lines active even when they still have unused credit in their SIMs. If it just happens you forget to top-up to keep your credit validity from expiring, your line will be canceled. If you have unused credit, then you lose all your money too.
Imagine there’s just RM1 left when your prepaid expires, your line canceled and your credit forfeited. That might not be a big amount but consider this, if one day 100 prepaid lines are forfeited that’s RM100 of free money to the telcos per day. Multiply that by 30 days in month and the telcos get RM3,000 of free money a month, or RM36,000 free money a year. That’s a lot of money anyway you look at it.
We feel that this is a conservative figure but it’s still reasonable to assume that the local telcos are making a handsome sum from expired prepaid credits. We know the big boys (Celcom, DiGi, Maxis and U Mobile) incur high overheads and might not be able to develop a business model that offers evergreen prepaid validity periods but they could at least make the expired credits recoverable or refundable. It’s only fair.
Though overheads shouldn’t hamper DiGi offshoot Happy and a host of Malaysian MVNOs like Tune Talk and XOXO who have yet to launch their services to consider a business model that is capable of offering prepaid credits that don’t expire.
For now, all we can do is wait and see.