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In a prepay mobile phone, topping-up or reloading is needed to further enjoy the services offered by the operator. There are a lot of options on how to reload a prepay mobile phone. The most popular process is through purchasing a prepay card but due to security precautions, electronic reloading was developed.
The technology of electronic reloading was first introduced in the Philippines by Smart Communications branding the service as SmartLoad and considered to be the world's first electronic reloading service. The service offered micro top-ups meaning prepay subscribers can top-up prepay credits with small denominations. The service gained popularity and soon after other service providers also used the technology in offering prepay top-ups to its subscribers. This kind of reloading service triggers the popularity of using cellular phones in the Philippines. Followed by the rival company, Globe Telecom who introduced a better version of the said top up method service thru their prioprietary called AutoloadMax or simply AMax.
Retailers and prepay phone subscribers both benefit from electronic reloading service.
Electronic reloading does not require transfer of any actual physical prepay cards. No more cards to be kept or safeguarded against theft.
There is no need to incur costs on transportation, warehousing or other incidental expenses that would cut into the retailer's profits because all transactions are done electronically.
Prepay credits are loaded automatically to the subscriber. No more long lines, no more PINs to be keyed in.
Channels of reloading
Prepay phone subscribers can top-up airtime balances via electronic reloading stations. Reloading Stations or retailers uses a Retailer SIM card in topping up prepay credits to a subscriber's mobile phone. The functions of this SIM is also identical to the prepay SIM cards offered commercially but with added reloading/top up functionality functionality. It uses a click-and-browse SIM technology to perform hassle-free transactions. A retailer enters the number of the mobile phone to be reloaded and then chooses either the denomination of airtime balance or a pre-subscribed prepay offer (e.g. Smart Communications AllText10, AllText20 & some of their prepay broadband offer topups such as FlexiTime, a time-based per minute charging internet offerThe airtime balance reloaded will then be deducted from the retailer's commercial load credits which can also be reloaded from a network's wireless centers (but in some cases in the Philippines, SMART Communications Wireless Shops doesn't cater to such method of reload in favour of Machine Topup or Scratch Cards locally called Prepay Vouchers). The commercial load is the prepay airtime balance used in reloading a prepay SIM card and is a separate load balance from the personal load balance of the retailer.
Any person can be a retailer since service providers are selling these retailer SIM cards without any additional contracts. Because of this scenario, reloading stations are popping up like mushrooms especially in the Philippines where every block of the city and even in most remotest areas in the provinces have reloading stations.
From the success of electronic reloading, the same network who introduced the service also developed a load transfer service among prepayprepay subscribers. Load transfer uses the same technology used in reloading stations but uses a different method. A prepay subscriber must key in the mobile number of the person where the credit balance must be transferred and sends to an access number designated by the service providers. Load transfers only supports small denominations and expires after 24 hours from the time of transfer.
Electronic reloading can also be done via reward points redemption. Service providers offers subscribers with reward points which are accumulated every time a subscribers uses or purchases any value added services of the network. These points can be used to purchase electronic loads and other services depending on the amount of points earned.
Automated Teller Machines
Banks have already designed and supported reloading service via Automated Teller Machines. A menu for reloading is added onto the machine and can be used by any person with an ATM card. The denomination reloaded to a prepay mobile phone is deducted from the bank account balance of the ATM card used.
Electronic reloads can also be offered from other subscriptions from a network provider. One particular example is through a prepay mobile broadband subscriptions. Service providers have designed a way to incorporate reloading functions of the mobile broadband. But these service are only marketed for personal use since the idea fleshed out from the load transfer service.
- In the Philippines, service providers uses different branding for the electronic reload service. Smart Communication, Globe Telecom and Sun Cellular uses SmartLoad, AutoloadMax or simply AMax and XpressLoad respectively in branding the service.
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