Virgin Mobile UAE's mobile plans are "totally customer-centric" said Product Manager Juraj Cangar speaking at the brand's Design District HQ in Dubai on September 6. Customers can have their SIM card delivered to them "within an hour", personalize their monthly mobile plan, and choose their own phone number, all via an in-house built app.
The fully app-based mobile service is part of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the parent company of 'du'. Both Virgin Mobile UAE and du will share EITC's telecom network, allowing for Virgin Mobile to "focus more on customer experience and innovation rather than worrying about infrastructure," said Managing Director Karim Benkirane.
Virgin Mobile UAE is unique in the sense that it doesn't require customers to visit a physical store. Everything to do with your mobile plan is done through the app that was built by the Virgin Mobile UAE team. To join, you can simply download the app, register your details, and then choose your monthly plan (data package, international calling, international roaming, etc).
The best aspect of the app-based service is that you can edit your mobile package every month to suit your needs. For example, if you set your data plan at 1GB per month and realize it's not enough, you can change it to 2GB (or higher/lower) for the next month. It's important to note, though, that changes made to a plan won't be implemented until the current plan has finished after 30 days.
Payment for the mobile package is made via credit card. Then, you must state whether you're a visitor or a resident. This is a breakthrough feature for tourists coming to the UAE. Etisalat and du require Emirates identification to start a mobile plan which is often inconvenient for new arrivals to the UAE and tourists who want to temporarily use a local mobile network to make calls and use data.
If you're a Virgin Mobile UAE customer and planning to travel abroad, you can pause your plan until you get back, rather than paying for a whole month's worth of unused service. You can also customize your roaming package by selecting the country you plan to visit and choosing your package. What's great is that the roaming package won't begin until you start using the service in that country.
Another interesting feature Virgin Mobile UAE introduced is the ability to choose your own mobile number without having to visit a store. Following market research, the team discovered that "in the UAE people want to have their own personalized number," said Mr. Cangar. "You can also bring your own number to Virgin Mobile. You don't have to fill out any papers - just go through the app, find the number, and it's yours," he said.
Once you've registered your mobile plan (residents must scan a copy of their Emirates ID), your SIM card will be delivered directly to you. Virgin Mobile UAE partnered with ride-hailing firm Careem and trained some drivers to deliver the SIM cards. Drivers have an app that scans the customer's information and then activates their SIM card. All Virgin Mobile UAE SIM cards are the same until a customer's mobile plan is uploaded.
The Virgin Mobile UAE app can be downloaded via Google Play and Apple App Store. For now, the brand is focussing on Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, Mr. Benkirane said, and because it's such a new service, he couldn't offer any details about user numbers at this stage. Ultimately, the emergence of Virgin Mobile's new service is an exciting step forward for the UAE as it continues to adopt a more digital and data-centric approach.