Turning Unused Data into Cash

March 30, 2021 - Martin Morgan

Martin Morgan, VP Marketing, discusses the advantage service providers have in the financial services industry

In late March 2021, Globe, the leading service provider in the Philippines announced that customers could convert unused data into GCash credit or reward points. This is a brilliant example of looking after your customers while at the same time making services stickier.

GCash is Globe’s mobile wallet. Customers use the GCash app to pay for goods and services as well as transfer and save money. In the last year the number of GCash registered users has grown substantially – from 20 million users at the end of 2019 to over 33 million at end of 2020. Rated by App Annie as the top finance app in the Philippines, GCash it also exceeding its goals for transaction values having gone over PHP 1 trillion (approx. US $20 billion) in the last year with more than 6 million transactions in a day. So lots of customers, lots of transactions and lots of value for Globe and also their customers.

Helping enable financial inclusion

In 2017 there we 53 million unbanked Filipinos. It’s fair to assume that this number has gone down as the number of GCash users has gone up. Leveraging mobile banking to increase financial inclusion is an opportunity for many service providers. There are more people with a mobile phone than with a bank account. Looking at the most recent World Bank Findex stats “1.7 billion adults remain unbanked, yet two-thirds of them own a mobile phone that could help them access financial services”. While this World Bank report was from 2018, more recent figures published in Forbes in 2020 show that 6% of American adults are unbanked. 

As Covid has accelerated the move to a cashless society we’ve also seen the rise of mobile payment services from Google, and Apple as well as a strong growth of new ‘digital first’ banks like Revolut. These new ‘neobanks’ are providing a mobile and digital first way to bank and carry out financial transactions.

Using mobile services to attract financial services customers

Telcos have been looking at financial services for several years. Orange is arguably the poster child when it comes to offering mobile banking services. Launched in late 2017 in France, by July 2020 Orange Bank had gained over 1,000,000 customers. By leveraging the fact that they’re also a mobile service provider Orange attracts new banking customers by offering a discount on their Orange Phone bill and a discount to buy a new mobile phone as part of a mobile plan. Open an Orange Bank account and Orange will give customers up to €140 for the purchase of a new mobile from Orange (with a 24 month contract) and will give €30 when a customer first pays their Orange phone bill using a debit from their Orange Bank account.

Using their mobile telecoms business can be a good way to attract new customers. Globe have taken this one stage further and tie in on-going mobile phone usage with GCash usage. This encourages GCash customers to use Globle’s mobile telecom services and vice versa. Globe’s G-Plan includes GCash points that customers can use to spend on a range of products and services. By bundling in GCash points in their offers Globe is encouraging their customers to use GCash. The fact that they are also offering to convert unused data into reward points or GCash credit will probably attract new subscribers to Globe’s telecoms services. Plus as the rewards conversion table below shows, post-paid customers get more rewards so this helps to get customers to upgrade to post-paid plans.

For prepaid users: 1GB = 1 reward point

For postpaid users: 1GB = 10 reward points

For home prepaid WiFi users: 3GB = 3 reward points

As telcos look to expand the range of products and services that they offer their customers being able to bundle and cross discount across anything is key. Converting unused data to rewards and GCash points that customers can use to spend on pretty much anything is good for the customer and it’s a very smart move by Globe.


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