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Interview with Kim Juchem, Truphone

Kim Juchem explaining the value of moving to a digital offering

The power of digital

Truphone’s Kim Juchem on the value for MVNOs of moving to a digital offering

Truphone is a multinational MVNO by heritage, but moved into the software space having developed its own software stack around SIM technology. Kim Juchem, Global Director, Wholesale & Software at Truphone, explains how it’s using that technology to provide a seamless digital experience to its customers and to enable other MVNOs, MNOs and OEMs to do the same.

Which parts of an MVNO should become digital and why – aside from grasping the ability to have eSIMs and to position everything from a central point?

I think in general a digital MVNO means that the customer is in control and can decide how they want to purchase the service and how they want to be served. At the end of the day, it’s a bit like in the app world, where the user decides which app to download and whether they go freemium or premium. The user decides if they want to start off small, with a free version, and then scale form there. And of course, we are very focused on the app experience because we have the technology to enable the delivery of a mobile subscription – aka an eSIM – via an app and without the need to use a QR code. That is something that the younger generation especially is really keen to embrace, because that’s how they shop. They go online, they go onto the Amazon app, and they buy what they want without necessarily going into an outlet.

We are seeing this happening already, with the SIM-only proposition – whereby you don’t need to connect to a 24-month contract if you choose to buy or finance your handset. There is more customer control – you can ‘pay as you grow’. Or you can ‘pay less as you shrink’, as we saw people wanting to do during the pandemic.

Are there advantages to a hybrid setup – partly based on premises and partly based in the cloud/datacentres – as opposed to a full digital offering? Are there still some companies that are somewhere between the two?

It has to do with device availability, because some customers don’t have the latest devices or have chosen to take devices that are not eSIM enabled. There are not that many anymore, because most of the devices out there today are eSIM enabled, but there are certain regions in the world where eSIM-enabled smartphones or the latest generation is not readily available. And then of course you still need to have a physical SIM even if all the support tools are fully digital – and the pay as you grow or pay less as you shrink model still applies there as well.

So, it depends on how legacy you are as a provider, and how many legacy customers and legacy processes you have, because you need to digitise all those processes before you can move to the full digital experience.

Does that give an advantage to newer players in the market – because they are not so hampered by the legacy challenge?

Definitely. We have used our eSIM technology to enable operators to provide eSIMs to their customers and you can see how it improves the traditional plastic SIM processes. Usually what happens is you go into a store, you buy a subscription, you get an envelope with your SIM card and your PIN number sent to you, and you unpack it and set it up.

We have enabled our customers to use QR codes. You have a QR code, you take a picture of that QR code with your phone, and that QR code translates into an eSIM that is then downloaded to your device.

Another advantage is the commercial aspect. For a plastic SIM, in some markets, you will pay €25 or $10. But when it’s an eSIM, that doesn’t apply.

How big a part of your business do you think the Internet of Things is going to become in the years ahead?

Huge. Right now, IoT is the second biggest market we’re in after the enterprise business and it’s growing massively. I don't know if you’ve read the latest Kaleido news brief on the IoT MVNO market, but we’re among the top three with Kore and Aeris, well ahead of the competition. So for us it’s a huge business opportunity.

We’re shipping quite significant amounts of SIMs and eSIMs to IoT customers who then deploy globally – and you want that to be as digital as possible because a customer who deploys 10,000-15,000 devices a month doesn’t want any physical interaction with the devices, they just want everything uploaded to a platform and then downloaded to the devices. eSIM is exactly the technology that enables this.

Which applications are you seeing the greatest demand for?

We see substantial demand across a lot of verticals. We’re mainly focusing on logistics, video surveillance and tracking and tracing. These are the ones where we have seen the most traction within our customer base. But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking into other segments and verticals. And we are.

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Kim Juchem is a telco and IoT professional with 20+ years of global experience in corporates, consultancy and start-ups responsible for the leadership and commercial operational management of Truphone’s end-to-end relationships with MNOs and connectivity partners as well as its software (eSIM) business. Before joining Truphone, Kim was Co-Founder, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the IoT connectivity and platform as a service (PaaS) provider 1NCE. Prior to 1NCE, Kim was with T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom Group where he held various leadership positions in the international wholesale/ MVNO and investment management space. Kim holds a Master Degree in Telecommunication Business and Economics from the University of Duisburg as well as an MBA from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.