Operator Ooredoo Qatar has debuted a new feature for its Ooredoo Money service, which enables customers to top up phone and entertainment services abroad for family and friends. With International Top-Up, users of Ooredoo Money can recharge any prepaid mobile number in over 140 countries, buy data products for any operator in 14 countries, and make digital TV subscription payments for selected countries.
Customers can make International Top-Ups through the Ooredoo Money app or with USSD quick codes, entering the top-up amount in local currency and confirming. The Ooredoo Money app is also available in Arabic, English, Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tagalog and Nepali.
Allowing customers to top up the balances of family members’ and friends’ accounts is a long-standing practice in prepaid plans. In this example from Ooredoo Qatar, the operator is using mobile money to expand the concept beyond the traditional parameters.
With the vast proliferation of mobile money systems and the growth of interoperability, it is now possible to use platforms such as Ooredoo Money to make payments to a multitude of entities all over the world. It is clever of the operator to take advantage of this capability to make it possible to enlarge the family-and-friends-top-up concept to include other operators and even other products beyond garden-variety top-ups.
For an MNO to give its customers the ability to pay for other operators’ services might seem a bit counterintuitive, at least compared to the idea of topping up other accounts within the operator’s ecosystem, but in today’s ultra-connected world, other operators are really part of any operator’s ecosystem. By encouraging top-ups to the accounts of other operators, Oordeoo is in fact insuring that its own subscribers will continue to have solvent and vigorous communication partners among family and friends, and by keeping lines of communication active, this offer will likely ensure that Oordeoo subscribers continue to spend money—and, it is hoped, more money—on their own bills with Ooredoo.
Adding more sophisticated, value-added products to the menu of options for purchasing for others (albeit not in nearly as broad a swath of markets as the basic top-ups) makes sense, since more and more users are sharing data-intensive features with each other while using their devices. Streaming entertainment products are an example, and another is mobile gaming, in which there is a social aspect to a data-consuming activity that requires communication between users to work. While we are not sure if this is one of the products Ooredoo’s International Top-Up is including, it would be a good idea under this concept.