Value-added services, or VAS, are ubiquitous in the telecoms industry. Described as any “non-core service”, VAS are add-on products and services that create new revenue streams and build brand loyalty.
Not every value-added service costs money; some are provided for free but are a great way to enhance the customer experience and create a competitive advantage. That’s priceless in itself!
I’m sure many of us are familiar with the ubiquitous streaming package value-adds. But the depth of VAS offerings goes well beyond Netflix or music streaming bundles.
We’ve compiled a list of 150+ VAS from around the word, and it’s clear that what’s offered in different regions comes down to cultural influence. For example, in markets where home ownership is prevalent, like in North America, you’re likely to see a lot of home security value-adds. In emerging economies, like in Africa, you’ll see lots of services for insurance, or banking; these sectors are less prominent than in North American or European markets, so there is an opportunity there for the telco to expand their reach.
We’ve narrowed down the list to the most interesting and unique offerings. Here are the 17 most interesting value-added services you need to see.
As you would expect, we found many value-adds that are extensions of telecom services. Here are the most notable.
In Iraq, Zain provides a Balance Transfer Service that lets prepaid customers transfer money from their account to someone else’s (for many parents, I bet this is a must-have). They also have an Extra Credit service where customers can subscribe for extra credits when they run out of minutes and re-pay the amount when they recharge their account. With these add-ons, customers never have to worry about being without minutes. It’s customer-friendly services like these that build long term brand loyalty.
Vodafone Egypt offers an End of Call Notification VAS. At the end of each call, customers are notified about how much the call cost, and their remaining balance. This is another nice example of a service that keeps customers informed and engaged with their provider.
What’s worse than a broken phone? Not much. In the UK, EE is cornering the market on device repairs. Open to all customers regardless of which network they belong to, EE provides screen and battery repairs within 2 hours. I’ve long said that device repairs are both a great revenue stream, and a customer experience necessity. It’s great to see telcos like EE making this service so accessible. Will they lure those non-network folks into becoming EE customers with this great service? You can bet on it.
In our research, we found several education-themed value-adds around language learning and general education.
In French-speaking Benin, MTN’s English Class provides English lessons over the phone and offers daily, weekly and monthly subscriptions. It’s a great offering that makes language learning accessible to the average person.
In a similar vein, Orange Morocco’s language offering is called YouScribe. It’s the largest French-language streaming digital library, offering access to more than 1 million references, including books, newspapers, audiobooks, and more. Customers can subscribe on a weekly or monthly basis through their self-care app or via text sign up.
We found some great unpaid educational value-ads too. Vodacom’s e-School is a great one from South Africa. Vodacom customers can access video lessons, homework plans, and quizzes for subjects that range from basic life skills, up to a grade 12 curriculum. All the resources are completely free – and there are no data costs (bravo!). It’s a great initiative that gives back to the community while building brand loyalty.
As time goes on, telcos are becoming more and more like financial services companies. As mobile wallets become a key line of business in certain markets, it’s no surprise that we found many VAS in line with this theme.
Etisalat’s Super Sallefny is a borrowing service that enables loans between 5 and 70 EGP for a service fee, which is paid back the next time you recharge your account. Along with their mobile wallet offering, Etisalat is definitely blurring that line between bank and telco and finding new ways to entangle their customers.
In Qatar, Ooredoo’s Ooredoo Money lets customers transfer money to over 200 countries. Historically, mobile money has enabled local transactions only, but being able to transfer internationally is a growing use case among mobile money services. This app can also be used to pay the salaries of domestic workers, which further deepens its fintech investment.
Telkom Lend, by South Africa’s Telkom, is another great example of a financial VAS that also has a social benefit. This program gives entrepreneurs and small businesses access to affordable capital within 24 hours. I love to see telcos investing in their local communities!
We also found many value-adds that fall under the health and wellness umbrella. Post-pandemic, the strain that healthcare systems are facing has put a renewed focus on health and wellbeing, and several VAS are capitalizing on that.
In Canada, the TELUS Health MyCare App caught my eye. This app allows customers to video chat with a doctor, get prescriptions refilled, and get referrals. The service is free for subscribers in select provinces with provincial health coverage or can be accessed by anyone else for a fee.
TELUS also has a SmartWear Security service that lets users call emergency services from smart accessories, like jewelry and keychains. These offerings are some more great examples of value-added services that customers will find it hard to give up, which builds long-term loyalty. Great job, TELUS!
GoWell from Etisalat by e& is another interesting offering in this category that rewards subscribers for meeting their fitness goals. By being active, subscribers earn ballots for large prize draws and are eligible for rewards and discounts on fitness gear. Programs like this could be just the motivation someone needs to get healthy. Now I just need to find a VAS that rewards my golf habit...
Who doesn’t love a bit of fun? We found several novelty value-adds that show almost anything and everything can be monetized.
In Cambodia, Smart’s FunLie VAS uses voice-analysis to gauge in real-time whether the person on the other end of the line is telling the truth or not. I’m curious of this technology’s accuracy, but it goes to show even gimmicky add-ons have their place in revenue generation.
Do you live in Gambia and struggle to express your romantic thoughts? Africell’s Love Quote is the add-on for you. Subscribers will receive a love-themed message every day that they can then send to their loved one. Interestingly enough, Africell also offers a Love Meter service to measure the love percentage between you and your beloved…I wonder if your score goes up or down if you’re using the Love Quotes? Food for thought!
On the more practical side, EcoNet Telecom in Lesotho offers a Traffic Camera service where subscribers can view live traffic feeds and assess local traffic conditions and plan their commutes accordingly. EcoNet’s service capitalizes on the country’s lack of traditional traffic monitoring solutions to offer their customers a valuable service.
Value Added Services are everywhere and are an important brand and revenue builder. Would you subscribe to any of these services? Are there any interesting ones that we should add to our list? Let me know in the comments!