Circles.Life enters Australia market through tie-up with Singtel's Optus

Circles.Life co-founder Rameez Ansar said that similar to other countries, it has found Australian customers to be "unhappy" with their telcos.
Circles.Life co-founder Rameez Ansar said that similar to other countries, it has found Australian customers to be "unhappy" with their telcos.PHOTO: CIRCLES.LIFE

SINGAPORE - Telco start-up Circles.Life has extended its digital services to Australia through a partnership with Singtel's Australian subsidiary Optus, it announced on Friday (Sept 13).

The services have been rolled out to the Australian Capital Territory, and the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, with Western Australia and South Australia slated for launch later, the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) told The Business Times.

Circles.Life co-founder Rameez Ansar said that similar to other countries, it has found Australian customers to be "unhappy" with their telcos, hence the company is looking to step up the game with a premium customer experience.

"We are proud to partner with Optus and we aim to set a new benchmark for customer satisfaction in the country," he added.

The MVNO said it plans to continue its strategy of offering flexible plans and customer service manned by real people instead of bots. This includes SIM-only plans starting from 20 GB for A$28, as well as bill shock protection, straight forward pricing and no long-term contracts.

For non-telco products, Circles.Life will offer similar products like the ones offered in Singapore, but tailored to fit the Australian market and announced before the end of the year, it added.

In a previous interview with BT on entering Australia and the MVNO's expansion, Circles.Life co-founder Abhishek Gupta shrugged off the notion that competition in the telco sector is too intense.

He said: "If you see Australia as five cities . . . each of these cities is pretty much like a Singapore in some ways . . . So, when people talk about our growth, I say we're not going from one country to four. We're going from one Singapore to 20 Singapores."

In June, Circles.Life rolled out mobile services in Taiwan, its first overseas market. The firm adopted an MVNO model with an undisclosed Taiwanese network partner, similar to its partnership with M1 in Singapore.

Circles.Life at the same time said its Taiwan business will offer an app-based, no-contract plan that comes with 18GB of mobile data, it said in its press materials.

Other than Australia, Circles.Life has said it plans to expand to Indonesia this year, and two more markets in 2020.

In Singapore, Circles.Life has gone into creating digital lifestyle products in a bid to be a "lifestyle-related business". As shared previously with BT, the MVNO is eyeing three streams such as events app Discover; insurance products; and a financial services deal Mr Gupta previously said is "still under wraps".

Currently, it offers mobile insurance which gives coverage for mobile-related damages to help users save on costly repairs.

When asked whether the company would offer the same products across all future markets, Mr Gupta replied that "if you look at the digital, data-savvy consumers, surprisingly, these customers are very similar across most global cities".

Circles.Life saw a Series C round in February led by venture capital giant Sequoia India. Singapore's Economic Development Board's investment arm was identified as an investor in another funding round announced in June, along with Silicon Valley's Founders Fund.