Circles.Life is less of a telco with an app and more of an app with a telco

Credit: Circles.Life

Circles.Life isn't just a new player Australian telco arena, they're one with a very different game-plan to the rest.

Originating out of Singapore, the MVNO is full of familiar promises to put the customer at the center of the experience. However, where it differs from *checks notes* every other carrier who says that is that Circles is putting all their effort into their in-app experience.

Don't expect to see any physical Circles.Life kiosks pop-up anytime soon. They might run atop the Optus mobile network but so much of what makes the Circles.Life pitch compelling feels designed to pull you towards that app. At a baseline, this app lets you do all the things you'd expect: pay bills, call upon customer support and purchase extra data.

Speaking of data caps, there are few wrinkles to how Circles' handles them. The MVNOs standard $28/month plan nets you 20GB of data plus 3GB of "bill shock protection" that kicks in if you go over that limit. Essentially, you get 23GB for $28.

If you still need more data on top of that, you can also boost your data by purchasing an additional 3GB of data for $6 OR get another 20GB a month by a buying a $10 add-on to your plan.

The former won't renew month-on-month, it's a one off. The latter is more of semi-permanent addition to your monthly bill. Interestingly though. If you choose to nab that extra $20/month halfway through the month, the price is actually changes. Purchase that extra 20GB add-on halfway through the month and you'll only be charged $5 instead of the usual $10.

Circles are throwing in a free four months for everyone who signs on by the 30th of September (and activates their SIM before the 30th of October).

Update: Circles.Life have now extended this offer to include customers who signup by the 14th of October and activate before November 30th.

At the moment, that in-app experience is limited to just those fundamentals. However, in other markets, Circles.Life's app lets you do a lot more than just the basics. The app invites users to engage with regular opinion polls. It lets you book movie tickets. There are weekly giveaways and events. You even get bonus data for using public transport.

Cheap data is just the thing that gets you through the door. The rich app is what keeps you there.

Circles.Life Australia tell us that their tech stack has been designed to allow for the rapid rollout of new features like the above based on consumer feedback. If they can follow-through on that, that could make for a really interesting point of difference to basically every other MVNO out there.

Our take: In some ways, the Circle.Life is angling itself like akin to something like a social network. It seems like their ambitions don't lie with becoming the next Booth Mobile. They seem more interested in becoming the next WeChat or Grab. That's a bold direction for any MVNO to go and I'm fascinated to see what degree to which they can succeed.

You can find more info on the Circles.Life website.

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Fergus Halliday
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