It looks like Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea are looking at a “contactless digital customer acquisition process” to boost their SIM card sales numbers. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, the number of SIM card sales has reduced as people are staying at home, stores are closed and there is no way for a customer to get a SIM card without visiting a shop. According to the Economic Times, the three telcos added a mere 500,000 new customers in March 2020. In any other month, the number of SIM cards sold to customers by the three telcos ranges between 2.5- 3 million.
To combat this, it looks like the three telecom giants are looking at approvals from the department of telecom (DoT) and the home ministry to implement a process where e-KYC (electronic Know Your Customer) is implemented and a safe way can be implemented for courier delivery of the SIM card.
"Operators are aware people need mobile connections but are facing hardship in getting them amid the nationwide lockdown, which is why, they are collectively working on a secure technology solution that can make SIMs available when people need it the most, and also boost customer adds," said Rajan Mathews, director-general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) that represents the three telcos to ET.
Another thing to note is that before the country went into lockdown, only a third of the overall recharges were digital. But it looks like all the recharges taking place now are digital through the network provider’s app or website or third-party apps like PayTM and others.
A Vodafone Idea spokesperson told ET that the company is “developing a fully-automated, digital customer acquisition process, allowing customers to join its network from the comfort of their homes.”
If someone has a prepaid number, it is obvious that he/she may not be able to recharge their number once the validity or data pack ends. In such cases, some telcos have enabled the ability to recharge their numbers via ATMs. You can learn how to recharge via an ATM here. In other telecom news, BSNL has launched a Rs 693 and Rs 1,212 prepaid plans with up to 500GB data and 365 days validity. You can read more about it here.