With GSMA’s M360 APAC set to begin tomorrow in Seoul, South Korea, Tara Neal, Executive Editor of The Fast Mode spoke to Rameez Ansar, CEO and Co-Founder, Circles in a brief interview on the company’s participation in the upcoming event. Ansar also reveals Circles’ recent achievements, plans for the future, as well as his thoughts on the development of digital nations and the concept of a ‘digital-first future’.
Tara: What are you looking forward to most at the event? Does Circles have any exciting activities planned?
Ansar: With 75% of the global workforce predicted to be digital natives by 2025, there is tremendous pressure for mobile network operators (MNO) to accelerate their digital transformation strategy. The theme for 2023’s M360 APAC edition could not be more apt, as it zeroes in on key topics to how organisations should harness their people and innovative technologies to support the demands of digital nations.
I look forward to the learning exchange with like-minded industry experts and sharing of best practices on how Circles has been able to crack the code to deliver delightful digital telco experiences to people. But most importantly, I look forward to connecting with our customers, partners and friends from the industry.
Tara: What are some of your recent achievements?
Ansar: 2023 has been an extremely exciting year for the business, where we have announced key strategic partnerships and ventures into new markets, as well as grown our service offerings to customers.
Firstly, I’m thrilled to share that Circles has recently signed a joint venture with Middle East’s telco giant, e& international, to bring the best in digital solutions to e&’s footprint across 16 markets and beyond. This not only marks our first foray into the Middle Eastern market, but also the expansion of our global network of operations into our fourteenth market. As part of the partnership, we have just launched onic, our first digital telco into Pakistan. With our partner e&, we look forward to accelerating digital transformation across their markets, to bring transformational digital experiences and services to the people.
We also celebrated the impressive net-promoter-score (NPS) of +30 for povo2.0, KDDI Corporation’s digital telco brand. This is higher than Japan’s industry benchmark, and a reflection of customer’s satisfaction towards the greater mobile freedom and personalisation povo2.0 delivers. The launch of povo2.0 was a pioneering effort, entirely accomplished remotely from Singapore into Japan within a short span of 16 weeks, during the COVID-19 pandemic when international travel was limited – a novel occurrence in Japan’s telecommunications history.
On the side of our consumer business, we have expanded our service offering for Jetpac, the travel eSIM plan which grants people global connectivity across 50 countries. Anyone can purchase a Jetpac, regardless of their current mobile plan, which brings hyper convenience to customers, eliminating the hassle of swapping physical sim cards and bill shocks. People can travel with a peace of mind, knowing that they are connected anywhere. What I personally love about this product is the endless possibilities to provide non-telco digital services, such as the automatic free lounge access for flight delays. This also serves as a launchpad for our telco partners to launch new innovative services at scale and speed.
Tara: Are there any speaking opportunities that Circles will be taking part in? What are some of the key points that Circles will be delivering?
Ansar: Circles disrupted the telco market in 2014, by introducing Singapore’s first digital telco, Circles.Life, promising a customer-first digital experience and services that the digitally savvy generation wants and needs. The Circles.Life platform is powered by Circles X, the world’s first cloud native SaaS platform that is ‘built for operators by an operator’.
On the back of the success of Circles.Life in three different markets, we have quickly expanded our Circles X offerings to empower other MNOs, such as KDDI Corporation and e& international, to launch their own digital telcos through a clean sheet approach, away from their incumbent legacy systems and infrastructure. Powered on our Circles X full stack SaaS platform, MNOs can better deliver business growth, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
We look forward to sharing our operator and technology experiences at the M360 APAC event, where we are participating in two speaking sessions – ‘Digital transformation strategies & case studies in the 5G era’ and ‘Accelerating digital growth across industries’. I will also be participating in the Digital Nations CEO roundtable, where together with global influential leaders, we will discuss key challenges and opportunities to build a world of sustainable Digital Nations of tomorrow, expedite digital transformation and close the usage gap.
Tara: What are some key considerations when it comes to the development of digital nations?
Ansar: The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the demand for, and supply of, digital goods and services. As more customers become digitally empowered through faster internet connectivity and digital services at their fingertips, governments and businesses are forced to adopt a more digitally resilient business strategy at greater speed and depth.
At Circles, we are driven by our mission to give the power back to the people. This goes beyond providing reliable connectivity to customers, to helping MNOs adopt essential cloud-based applications through disruptive digital technologies such as Circles X, in order to reach the growing population of digitally savvy customers.
Taking the learnings from operating our own digital telco, Circles.Life, on our own Circles X technology, we provide partner MNOs with a playbook to successfully run their own digital telcos from Day 1. By shifting telco services online, it unlocks unlimited non-telco services through strategic tie-ups with lifestyle, financial and travel service partners. For example, our Circle of Joy loyalty program allows customers to earn points and redeem rewards. By having access to all customers’ content consumption habits and preferences, operators can deliver personalised and delightful digital experiences to their customers.
Tara: What does the term ‘digital-first future’ mean to you? How do you see this playing out in the APAC region?
Ansar: With 83% of the global population connected to a smartphone, governments and businesses have a common goal of harnessing digital technology to improve people’s lives. As businesses adopt a digital first strategy, it enables them to be more agile and adaptable, being able to respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer needs.
Based in Singapore, the smartest Asian city and the seventh-smartest in the world (2023 Smart City Index), gives Circles the leading advantage of being at the forefront of innovation and being able to hire the best talents in the industry. To foster an innovative-mindset across the organisation, we launched our first research and development centre in Singapore, dedicated to testing, launching and bringing innovation to the market quickly. That said, we look forward to bringing more innovative technologies that will transform how people and businesses connect online, travel and live.