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Circles Asia and
digital differentiation

From B2C to B2B – how Circles Asia made the leap

Mehul Vora, VP of Sales, Pareteum MVNE, talks us through the evolution of Circles Asia and offers top tips for digital differentiation.

Phase one: launching Singapore’s first B2C MVNO

Circles.Life, as it is commonly known, was founded in Singapore in 2014. In this point in time in Singapore, there was very little innovation and very slow progress in the telco market.

Customer service didn’t come first or even second. In fact, it probably came fifth or sixth on the list of priorities. There were lock-ins, lengthy queues and lack of digitalisation.

The founders of Circles.Life set off to reinvigorate the Singaporean telco market. They. had long thought about how to go about doing that, and concluded that best thing to do was to deliver an experience that also gave flexibility and control back to the users.

We’ve all heard Steve Jobs’ keynote speeches and know that he always used to say that whenever he was designing a new product, he didn’t start with what was the art of the possible at the time. Instead, he looked at the service or the experience that he wanted the users to have and he worked backwards.

This isn’t dissimilar to what Circles.Life founders did. They started with what would be an ideal service experience and then worked backwards from there to assess what a telco stack should look like to be able to deliver those experiences.

That approach resulted in them developing a digital telco SaaS platform called Circles X. With that platform, in 2016, they launched the first B2C MVNO in Singapore.

Phase two: developing an ecosystem of digital offerings

This MVNO was very, very successful. So hot on the heels of that they launched two more MVNOs in Taiwan and Australia. And over a period of time what Circles X has evolved into is a very successful ecosystem of digital offerings that comprises financial services, entertainment and many other non-mobile services.

It’s simply no longer enough to just do telco very well – that’s very much what is expected. If you are going to innovate in the telco space, most users are going to want you to do more, and better.

What truly differentiates you from everyone else who is doing the same thing in the market is not just the what, but also the how, and that how translates into increased RPU, better customer retention or even better lifecycle value of the subscriber.

The Circles X platform is full of bells and whistles. It’s a data platform, with analytics, delivery and operation all bundled together and integrated in a very nice end-to-end fashion. A strong platform should allow users to do basic things better, for example – bundle different services and offerings together. And

not just basic telco service layers but also addons, rewards and non telco services. Once you’ve done that you also have to look at acquiring additional subscribers. The number of subscribers acquired is how most MVNOs measure success – for example, how big they’ve become over a period of time. The other metric used is the net promoter score, which is a reflection of the satisfaction that the MVNO is able to deliver to the customers.

Phase three: making the leap to B2B

Having run a B2C MVNO business, and having got to the bottom of what the challenges and interests are, we could deliver all those learnings to our B2B MVNO partners. We launched the first B2B MVNO in Japan in 2020 and a second one in Indonesia in 2021. The idea here was simply to disrupt telco markets

by continuing to provide the best-in-class digital user experience:

• Hyper personalisation

These promotions can be market specific and segment specific, but they can also be super personalised. To give a simple example, you might know through cookie-based behaviour that the customer has visited an app or a website of a competitor. You know that they may be thinking of churning away and, therefore, you can deliver a targeted promotion for, for example, a digital streaming subscription in order to try to retain them.

• Loyalty via reward features

Everybody likes to be rewarded and to be acknowledged, and it’s no different in the telecom space. This is where having a platform that allows you to integrate rewards in an end- to end way pays dividends.

• High value digital service segments

If you’re an MVNO and you if you want to drive your RPUs forward, you need to identify your specific segments and niches and earmark them. This means running campaigns and creating promotions that directly targets those sets.

How to acquire subscribers and build a net promoter score:


Different groups of people may be aware of a new MVNO and genuinely interested in it. They are considering moving from an MNO or another MVNO. There is intent, but depending on the stage of interest of the different individuals, it’s important to make sure that you’re targeting them through different



How many times have you received a text or email that is very interesting and that you have every intent of doing something with, but it gets forgotten? It’s for this reason that the retargeting of prospects at the right time and via the right channel is crucial. This is a make or break matter – conversion rates jump up 25%

on the second retargeting.

Promotion = rapid time to market

Promotions change services from being an acceptable one to something much more desirable. We all spend insane amounts of money on the latest Apple and Samsung phones. And why is that? Because they are desirable. What does desirability mean? It means paying for something that delivers value or pleasure. Value is delivered by offering promotions that are super specific to the users, and by being able to do this and to be able to do that in seamless fashion.

Key takeaway: It’s simply no longer enough to just do telco very well – this is very much expected of you. If you truly want to innovate and standout, you have

to do much more in a better and more distinct way than your competitors.

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