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The digital revolution has not only transformed the telecom business environment but has also reinvented customer interests and needs. Customers today, especially in the telecom environment have become much more tech-savvy and are actively seeking services that suit their increasingly digital lifestyle, from the way they recharge airtime, to the way they pay their bills. The accelerated penetration of smartphones and the proliferation of the internet across the world is only going to grow from here but how does this affect the world of telecom?  

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Current Situation

Telcos in the prepaid market can significantly boost their revenue and retain more subscribers by moving beyond scratch cards for airtime recharge to electronic top-up. Even though scratch cards have played a vital role in the distribution of airtime over the past decades, it is pertinent for MNOs to switch to a more versatile digital approach. This is also better suited to the needs of the subscribers and is on the same wavelength with the fast-evolving telecom industry.

In addition to providing value-added services like mobile data, MNOs are taking measures to ensure fast and efficient services for their subscribers to gain a competitive advantage in the market. Hence, the digital transformation trend in the telecom industry and fast-evolving customer interests have made the scratch card system almost obsolete. Since digitizing the airtime recharge process also allows telcos to cut down OPEX and boost revenue, it is quickly becoming the gold-standard for distribution across the industry.

Digitization Airtime Recharge

What makes an Electronic Recharge System so valuable?

A comprehensive etopup and dealer management system like ERS 360, can help to create impactful selling experiences across the retail network of MNOs. Given that an electronic recharge system can sell any digital product at any time, it also motivates resellers to sell more while building strong brand loyalty. Additionally, the automation allows MNOs to utilize business intelligence that runs at the core of this system to  make informed decisions through actionable insights that are readily available.

Here are some specific use cases for the Seamless Electronic Recharge System – ERS 360 – that allows our customers to cut back on costs, generate more revenue, and build lasting channel loyalty:

Digitization Airtime Recharge

Benefits of Digital Airtime Recharge

1. Eliminate production and distribution costs

The complete cost of generating, printing, transporting, warehousing, distributing, and managing the inventory of scratch cards can be overwhelming. In addition to that, MNOs also incur a recurring cost of maintaining a constant supply of prepaid scratch card inventory at each distributor or reseller to provide airtime to subscribers. However, with electronic recharge, the logistical and operational costs are minimized as the physical inventory levels drop down.

2. Real-time sales data through digital channels

With scratch card sales, MNOs are not able to see the impact of their reseller campaigns in real-time. These sales data and reports enable telcos to not only forecast demand and future trends but also plan their promotional campaigns efficiently. By digitizing the sales and distribution of airtime recharge, telcos also have the visibility of top resellers which enables them to incentivize or reward them under their loyalty programs.

3. Low stock alerts

For resellers and retailers, prepaid airtime scratch cards are just one commodity that they offer among the myriad of other products available in their stores. Thus it is often difficult to ensure the timely refilling of each airtime denomination. However, with an electronic recharge system,  have visibility into inventory levels or sales of their resellers within specific regions. Due to this, the bottlenecks in the restocking process are reduced substantially allowing to manage their inventory levels remotely for their entire distribution chain.

4. Low risk of theft or damage

Security is one of the most common concerns for MNOs when it comes to prepaid scratch cards. Theft or misuse of cards is prevalent in the distribution of scratch cards and forces resellers to either keep a low stock level or move towards keeping lower denominations to minimize their risk. This may result in a lower average recharge value for them. As opposed to this, there is little to no risk of theft or damage to the physical inventory in the digital airtime top-up.

5. Time-efficient process

End-users may have to wait in long lines to purchase scratch cards or may get turned down due to the unavailability of scratch cards. In comparison, the process of recharging digitally is time-efficient and requires very little effort from the subscriber. Electronic top-up also allows for flexible denominations which provide more options to the subscriber.

6. Effective commission and incentive management 

With printed scratch cards rolled out and available in the market, it is an intimidating task to manage region-based promotions. On the other hand, with a digital platform, it is easier for MNOs to control and manage commissions and incentives for resellers or promotions for subscribers from one platform.


Due to the high distribution costs and the lack of a digital and synergized platform, scratch cards are no longer used for airtime recharge in most prepaid economies. This makes it imperative for MNOs to move to a secure, cost-effective, and well-integrated platform that has the flexibility to manage multiple products at the same time to boost market reach, and enable easier scaling-up.

From gaining complete visibility across the distribution chain to empowering resellers through dynamic campaigns and incentives, our proprietary Electronic Recharge System enhances user experience and streamlines the end-to-end retail journey for our customers – all while helping them maintain their competitive edge in the market.

Author Sania Amir

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