How to Start an E-Loading Business in the Philippines


An e-loading business in the Philippines is as common as a basketball court. You can find them everywhere even in the most unlikely of places. In our neighborhood, a household helper runs her own e-loading business.

The convenience store where I buy my weekend ration of beer often has a long line of pre-paid subscribers purchasing load. The notary public at the gas station where I bring our contracts for registration has had his e-loading business for more than ten years.

Many people want to start an e-loading business because it is a fast and easy way to earn money. You don’t need much capital to start with, and the market for pre-paid load will only continue to grow.

The Market for an E-Loading Business in the Philippines

For a country known for diminutive people, we sure have an affinity for all things big.

Basketball, long-regarded as a tall man’s sport, is our national pastime. We’ve made runs in the Guinness Book of World Records in things as superfluous as “World’s Largest Salad,” “World’s Largest Shoe” and “Most People Kissing in One Event.”

So it’s not surprising that the Philippines has among the highest mobile penetration rate in the world.

With a population of over 103 Million, there are 119 Million mobile phone subscriptions for a mobile penetration rate of 117%!

Of these mobile phone subscriptions, 95% are pre-paid. That’s 113 Million pre-paid subscriptions… still more than the general population! Filipinos prefer pre-paid load because they can stick to a monthly budget.

The population of the Philippines is projected to grow at an annual rate of 3%. By the year 2020, it is estimated that there will be 110 Million people in the Philippines. Assuming the mobile penetration rate remains unchanged, that should translate to 129 Million mobile phone subscriptions by 2020 with 122 Million of them pre-paid.

Is it any wonder then why e-loading is an attractive business is in the Philippines? While the most business struggle to find markets to develop, with e-loading, the market is like a faucet where the pipe has burst open, and demand just keeps pouring out.

And the market for an e-load business in the Philippines isn’t just validated by the numbers on mobile phone subscription. There’s also the matter of the Philippines becoming the smartphone capital of the world.

During the first quarter of 2016 alone, 3.5 Million smartphones were shipped to the Philippines. It is estimated that there will be 33.3 smartphone users in the country by end-2017. By 2021, analysts forecast the number of smartphones to rise to 44.4 Million.

That’s 40% of the projected population whereas today, only 28% of the general population owns a smartphone.

Regardless of what the actual figures will be in 2020, there is no denying that the numbers will only go higher. It’s not just the Philippines which has become mobile-dependent. It’s the entire world.

If you want to become successful at a time where the world is evolving and changing at a rapid pace, you have to get in with the times. Mobile technology is the way to go; it has been that way for the last five years. If you’re skeptical, you should learn from the sad experience of US retail giant Walmart.

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Walmart is a prime example of a traditional retailer that refused to acknowledge the changing times. In the face of powerful e-commerce giants like Amazon and Zappos, Walmart chose to hold the flag for the brick-and-mortar establishment and paid the price.

The Philippines has not fully embraced mobile as the way for business; social media remains the number 1 online activity at 47% with online shopping only at 29%, but we will get there!

Thus, all growth signals point to a robust market for an e-loading business in the Philippines at least for the next 3 to 5 years.

How Much Capital Do You Need?

If you have a mobile phone, all you need is a SIM retailer card and initial load balance of 1,000 Pesos. An e-loading business will support phones from 1999 onward. This means if you’re still using the Nokia 3210, you don’t have to buy a smartphone.

Setting Up Your E-Loading Business

The two biggest providers of mobile phone services are Globe and Smart. Which one should you choose? Based on market share, Globe is the larger one with 66.6 Million subscribers compared to 62.1 Million for Smart.

But Smart had been lording it over the mobile market for the past five years. It’s highly unlikely they will simply allow Globe to forge ahead without putting up a fight.

If you’re not sure, just get a SIM retailer card from both Globe and Smart. Unless your phone has dual SIM capabilities, you should dedicate a phone for each carrier.

All you need to do is visit the Globe Business Center or Smart Wireless Center nearest you because these will be the branches where you reload your credit. You can also apply online. Smart has made the process easier by visiting its website.

Once there, fill out the information, submit the required documents, pay for the Retail SIM Card and the initial credit of 1,000 Pesos worth of load. The carrier will advise you when you can start selling load to your friends, family, and neighborhood.

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Marketing Your E-Loading Business

You can advertise your business via social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Send out a text blast to all your friends that you now own an e-loading business in the Philippines.

Make sure you have a change fund available at all times. You will get that customer who will buy load worth 25 Pesos and pay for it with a 500 Peso bill. Or to avoid this inconvenience, advise your audience in social media to pay exact change as much as possible.

If you plan to sell pre-paid load in your neighborhood, secure clearance from your village association and ask if you can post an advertisement on the community billboard.

Retail SIM Card vs. All-In-One SIM Retail Card

Another option is to go to a third party vendor for both Smart and Globe prepaid e-loading services. There are proprietors of All-In-One SIM card where you can sell other products aside from load. These products include games, cable TV subscriptions, exam reviewers, and bitcoins.

Although you can offer more services with the All-In-One SIM card, the trade off is earning smaller commissions.

With the SIM retailer card, you earn 7% to 13% from the load you sell. Thus, if you sell 1,000 Pesos worth of load, your total commissions would range from 70 to 130 Pesos. With the All-In-One SIM Card, the commission rate is at 5% to 10%.

There is also the risk of dealing with unscrupulous people when opting for the All-In-One SIM card. It is not regulated and given that it is an attractive and affordable business, you should expect the industry to thrive with scammers.

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