Topup = No More PINs!
Topup, often referred to as Real Time Replenishment (or RTR), has been
rolling out since I was involved in early launches back in
2004. It continues to be seen as the utopia of replenishment
products, and surprisingly, still not all wireless carriers support it
So what is it? It's basically the
of the PIN
What's so interesting about that you might be asking
What it means is that instead of having to deal with
cumbersome 10 to 14 digit PIN printed on the back of a card or
on a receipt to your wireless account, you simply have to give
the clerk your wireless phone number while in the store. The
enter your number into the terminal and the amount of money you
want to add to your account, and presto, the money is on your account
This payment technology no doubt has some major advantages to not
only the customer experience, but also to the store as well as to the
wireless carrier. It sounds simple enough, however, making
time technology like this work is
actually no small feat. Here are the major benefits broken
by impacted party:
- No messing around with PINs on cards or paper receipts
scratching off the numbers, or worrying about lost or damaged
PINs on receipts).
- No need for a second PIN redemption step by calling an IVR
(automated voice system)
or going on the Web.
- Money is available immediately on your account without any
- Typically allows you to add any amount, in dollars
and cents. In other words, you're not restricted to a small
fixed amounts/denominations (ex. $10, $20, $30, $50, $100).
- No card inventory management and related warehousing costs.
- No security or fraud exposure with either physical
topup cards or electronic PIN products.
- Lower support costs by helping customers with PIN related
Wireless Carrier Benefits:
- Ability to better serve customers by offering access to
open range (you can usually add any amount you want). In
other words, the
store can accept what money you happen to have in your pocket without
turning you away because you don't have enough for a certain
pre-defined whole dollar amount.
- Ability to deliver a better customer experience by
eliminating the two step
purchase-redemption process. Multiple steps almost always
errors and issues that result in customer complaints and calls, which
leads to higher support costs.
- Decreased operational costs by eliminating card printing
- Decreased fraud costs by eliminating electronic PIN
- Decreased customer care costs from handling PIN related
real time topup is certainly the most desirable technology all around,
there are some disadvantages to keep in mind, some of which include:
- Customers don't always know their prepaid wireless phone
number (believe it or not, it's true!).
or clerks can make mistakes while entering the phone number.
though most real time replenishment systems require double entry of the
phone number for validation, double INCORRECT entry of a phone number
is far more common that you would think. As a result, most
experienced prepaid providers will come to understand that they need to
provide void or refund capabilities to handle such errors.
and potentially unlimited access to inventory, means that wireless
dealers can find themselves with cash flow management issues.
While this isn't a customer concern, wireless carriers need
ensure they have effective (and enforceable!) payment terms with their
dealers and resellers, including building in total payment sales
restrictions to avoid issues.
Despite some of the disadvantages, it's fair to conclude that real time
topup is an overall win-win-win
for all involved. As a customer, you should seek out real
time replenishment locations for the best experience.
However, keep in mind that real time topup is still not