Shaping the future

Circles.Life says cheaper mobile data in Singapore means embracing disruption

Gwyn Heidi Ng
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Abhishek Gupta, shared why he considers the solely digital telecommunications company, Circles.Life, an industry disruptor in Singapore's telecommunications space, and likely to other countries in Southeast Asia in the future.

The co-founder of the company, owned by Liberty Wireless, said the mobile virtual network operator takes its entire operations to the cloud, tapping into the mobile network of M1, the third mobile operator in Singapore along with StarHub and Singapore Telecommunications.

It offers customizable no-contract plans, and serves its customers through an array of online and mobile platforms without a physical brick-and-mortar store, allowing it to sell cheaper data services. He said the model is one that some players in the space have been slow to adopt.

Digital Disruptor

"The big challenge that we've seen in the telco space is that the traditional players have not really adjusted very well to the digital transformation that's been happening in the rest of the world," Gupta said on CNBC's Squawk Box during an ASEAN Conference.

Singapore's Circles.Life is on track to capture 4-5% market share in the next few years

Without the need for extensive infrastructure, Gupta said the amount of money that goes into setting up the digital telco is about a tenth that of a traditional telco, allowing Circles.Life to dedicate more resources to its customer service.

The model also makes it easy to expand into other countries.

"We can grow across geographies without having to plonk in billions and billions of dollars, without having to acquire a telco, which is how traditionally telcos have grown … For the first time in the history of telecom, a telco can grow like an internet company," said Gupta.

Glitches in the digital space?

Yet, a year since their official launch in Singapore, this purely digital model has garnered some ire from its customers – with common complaints being about its mobile card delivery and customer service responsiveness.

While Gupta acceded that Circles.Life will be able to continue better providing great customer service with time, he is adamant that the telco has a huge camp of satisfied customers.

"Our customer satisfaction ratio was 90 plus percent. That's a good 20-odd percent higher than the rest of the market."

Data-savvy customers

The company expects to take five to seven percent of the Singapore market share within the next two to four years, with Gupta citing healthy demand from data-savvy consumers aged between 20 to 45 years of age and about half of its customer base coming from its referral program.

It launched its latest data offering of $20 for 20GB of data a month ago, which is currently the most cost-efficient data plan available in Singapore.

"Customers love the fact that you provide them $20 for 20 GB. So that's really, definitely a big hit," said Gupta.

Updates the ASEAN Conference reference.