The Indian telecom industry has been witness to all 3 S’s – the Successful growth story, the Slump in tariff rates and now even the Spectrum scam that has not only rocked the nation and but also entangled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with it.
Despite above all, the matter of the fact still remains that telecom sector is growing by leaps and bounds. This can be gauged from the growth in the number of mobile subscribers that has reached 706.37 million by the end of August 2010 and the overall tele-density in India has now reached almost 60%.
Going deeper into the wireless segment, interesting information coming out is that the post-paid (or billing) section hardly constitutes less than 1/5th of the overall mobile subscribers. Thus, a majority of the market is driven by pre-paid connections.
However, currently only around 1% of all mobile recharges of the pre-paid connections happen online but this share is growing rapidly with increasing internet connectivity and the masses finding it convenient to make utility transactions from the comfort of their homes.
This rapidly changing consumer preference towards online prepaid mobile recharges can be further gauged from the fact that a newly launched start-up firm catering to online prepaid mobile recharges – Freecharge.in – which we had covered just few months back, is already logging over 3000 transactions on an average daily basis.
Freecharge has come out with a report (on data covering 10 telecom operators) analysing the average spending pattern of mobile talk-time by users of various telecom circles and the popular mode of payments of ecommerce based on 1 lakh transactions made on their site over Sept-October 2010.
The payment methods available for the users were Credit Cards (Master and Visa only), Debit Cards (7 Indian banks and all Visa Electron Cards) and Net Banking (36 Indian Banks).
Highlights of the User Spending Pattern on Mobile Recharges
- Vodafone users spend highest on prepaid talk-times at around 15%, more than the overall average of Rs.128.
- Aircel customers spent the least at around 21%, lower than over all average.
- Karnataka is the highest spending circle – around 16% more than the average.
- Avg. ticket size on credit card transactions is 34% higher than Net Banking transactions and 83% higher than Debit Card transactions.
- SBI customers prefer using debit cards for online transactions whereas ICICI customers use their net banking account.
1. Overall Operator-wise Ticket size comparison
The average recharge amount has seen a big variation with Vodafone users’ spending almost 50% more than Aircel users. Vodafone was closely followed by the state-owned BSNL and Idea Cellular. The overall average ticket size was Rs.128/-.
2. Operator & circle-wise ticket size comparison
Vodafone subscribers were highest spenders across all 3 major circles followed by Tatas in Karnataka and Mumbai. The surprising entry, of all, is that of Idea Cellular which has just been a recent entrant in the overtly competitive Mumbai circle and seems to be gradually firming up its feet.
3. Circle-wise ticket size comparison
Though Delhi is one of the top telecom circles of the country, Delhi subscribers are spending about 8% less than their counterparts in Karnataka on online mobile recharges. In fact, Karnataka tops the list beating Mumbai by a pretty small margin.
Debit cards were the most preferred payment method for the transactions made. A notable reason for this being the target group focuses of the site, which were students and freshly employed people, who use their ATM cum Debit cards online for a transaction. Clearly the Debit card users are low spending users with an average ticket size of Rs.96.3/-. The average ticket size for transaction made through credit card is almost 83% higher than Debit card users.
On comparing the various banks for the payments, the average ticket size did not fluctuate noticeably within the same payment type. Though, there were clear leaders in each payment type. Amongst credit card transactions Visa was a leader with almost 2/3rd transactions being paid through a Visa card.
Can we expect Online Mobile Recharge business to grow at breakneck pace in India?