Bharti Airtel could soon offer smartphones on affordable EMI options to its prepaid customers - a strategy already in place for postpaid subscribers.
The telco is looking to offer entry-level smartphones bundled with voice and data plans to prepaid subscribers, and thus encourage several million feature phone users to upgrade to smartphones.
Here's what Airtel is working on.
Airtel is already in talks with lenders and OEMs
Airtel is working with several financial institutions and lenders to offer digital loans to its customers who do not have a credit rating and thus solve the issue of affordability.
Further, the telco is also in talks with OEMs to expand its online store with sub-Rs. 10,000 smartphones and hence, offer more choices to its over 326 million prepaid customers.
Making users switch from feature phones to smartphones
With affordable EMI options and allowing customers to upgrade to a smartphone of their choice, Airtel will encourage customers to switch from feature phone to smartphones.
But that's just half of the story.
In order to retain existing and attract new customers, Airtel will offer bundled plans with free data, unlimited calling, free roaming and other benefits such as Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions.
Airtel online store will serve as a one-stop solution
Airtel started its online store back in October 2017 as a one-stop place for mobility solutions.
However, until now, the online store has been largely catering to postpaid users in terms of offering latest devices on EMIs with attractive bundled plans.
And now, Airtel has expanded its online store for prepaid customers to offer few mid-range smartphones, digital finance options, and affordable tariff plans.
Some smartphones are now available for prepaid customers also
Currently, Airtel offers a few smartphones including the Nokia 6.1 (cheapest), Nokia 7 Plus and OPPO F9 Pro to its prepaid customers.
The Nokia 6.1 (3GB RAM) retails at Rs 15,499. However, Airtel is offering the phone at a down payment of Rs. 2,299 and EMI of Rs. 1,499 for 12 months, paired with 1.4GB 4G daily data, free calls, and 100 daily SMSes.
Telcos are aiming to increase their subscriber base
Since Jio disrupted the telecommunications space with its inexpensive tariffs, there's been an evident price-war.
Now considering more and more people are upgrading from voice-only to voice and data services, the subscriber base is key for telcos.
Therefore, in order to monetize different revenue streams (content and other services), the prepaid segment is crucial, given more subscribers will translate to a stronger revenue stream.