Brazilian MVNO Surf Telecom has launched a microcredit service, offering credit of up to BRL 400.00 (US $71.86), with installment repayments added to the user’s energy bill, according to a report. To have access to the credit, a customer needs to be the holder of an energy bill and must register on the Surf Telecom platform. If the application is approved, the money goes to any account or digital wallet specified by the customer. The installments are included in the electricity bill, which is passed on to the operator through a partnership.
This microcredit service is targeted to low-income users, to whom a small sum of money, under BRL 400.00 (US $71.86), could make a large difference in daily life at the time it is needed. Repaying the loan through installments added to an energy bill would be relatively easy and painless, especially considering that the amounts would be very low and that the user is already in the habit of paying that bill every month. From the operator’s point of view, having the payments made via the partnership with the utility rather than through the mobile service bill is advantageous, because while users may suspend or cancel their phone service at any time, they are unlikely to do so with their power company. And as a budget-oriented MVNO, Surf Telecom may feel that it does not have the stability in its relationship with the user that an energy company does.
From Surf’s point of view, offering microcredit can be a cost-effective way to deepen its relationship with users and position itself in their minds as a beneficent company that helps those who are struggling financially. This could help with customer acquisition and retention, in addition to the revenue that comes from the interest payments from the microloans.