Circles.Life set to hit 5% market share by year end

"Virtual telco" Circles.Life is on track to nab 5 per cent of Singapore's post-paid market by the year end, less than three years after it set up shop here, it said yesterday.

The latest update beats the firm's previously stated target of cornering between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the sector.

The privately held Circles.Life is what is known as a mobile virtual network operator. Unlike the big-name telcos, it does not have its own signal towers, but leases spectrum - in this case, from M1.

Circles.Life has been coy about its subscriber numbers in the past.

But a back-of-the-envelope calculation puts the number of Circles.Life subscribers in the neighbourhood of 264,600, based on the 5.3 million post-paid mobile users in Singapore as of Sept 30, according to Infocomm Media Development Authority data.

In comparison, market leader Singtel had 2.51 million post-paid subscribers as of Sept 30.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation puts the number of Circles.Life subscribers in the neighbourhood of 264,600, based on the 5.3 million post-paid mobile users in Singapore as of Sept 30, according to IMDA data.

Circles.Life subscribers are booked under M1's customer count in the host's quarterly reports, with M1 most recently reporting around 1.36 million post-paid users.

A spokesman said Circles.Life plans to launch telco services in two other unspecified countries early next year. Circles.Life has also been branching out into digital lifestyle products.

It recently unveiled Discover, a mobile events platform app, and has now made an EZ-Link tie-up, launched in May, available to non-subscribers as well.

Under the deal announced yesterday, public transit users will be able to convert their journeys into points that can be redeemed from companies such as Grab, Foodpanda and Lazada.

Circles.Life bolstered its expansion in this sphere by opening a "data innovation centre" in Bengaluru, India, in August, with 25 employees - a headcount that it plans to double in the first quarter of next year.

It also said it has committed to investing $25 million in areas such as machine learning, to grow its digital data platform.

Chief executive and co-founder Rameez Ansar said in a statement yesterday: "As we are reaching 5 per cent market share this year, we are continuing to develop the blueprint of the telco's future.

"After the launch of Discover in November, we opened our app to non-customers and we build on that vision with Ride for Rewards with EZ-Link."

Circles.Life set up shop in May 2016 - the first of the four similar firms now competing in Singapore. These asset-light entrants have triggered price slashing in the consumer field, a move that has taken a toll on the incumbents' average revenues per user.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2018, with the headline 'Circles.Life set to hit 5% market share by year end'. Print Edition | Subscribe