4 Clever Uses of SMS in Asia


September 28, 2017

The technology industry is in a perpetual state of change. Entrepreneurs are innovating the day’s current technologies to create the advances of the future. In America, 60% of adults have access to a smartphone, and as a result, many of the advances we see today are centered on refining that technology or expanding its capabilities.

In Asia, however, only 30% of the population has access to the internet and much fewer own smartphones. But, that doesn’t mean innovation stops. Entrepreneurs in these countries still need to find an edge on their competition and provide a superior customer experience. Though a mobile app may not have the same marketability in Asia that it would in the West, SMS messaging is being utilized in very clever, valuable ways.


4 Clever Uses of SMS in Asia


  • Smart Txtbks: In the Philippines as of 2013, 89% of citizens in the Manilla metropolitan area still used feature phones. Smart Txtbks developed a way to store full academic textbooks on SIM cards, so they could be loaded into these feature phones. Students or adults could then read these books on their phones as SMS messages.


  • SMS GYAN: This Indian startup has effectively created Google for those without a smartphone. Instead of doing the Google search yourself, users can send an SMS question to a contact center. At which point, an agent will conduct the search and send back relevant information.


  • VeXeRe: In Vietnam, bus travel is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to travel through the country, but the ticketing system was lagging behind. In 2013, VeXeRe launched to bring a bus ticketing system online. Users can log onto their website, purchase bus tickets, and the site would send an SMS ticket directly to the user’s phone. This eliminates the users need for paper tickets.


  • ZipDial: This one requires a little explanation. In Indian cell-phone culture, it is not uncommon to call someone or a business and immediately hang up and register a missed call on the receiver’s phone. This is done habitually to avoid charges from telecommunication companies and to notify the other caller. For example, when arriving safely at a destination one caller might send a missed call to a friend to let them know they made it. ZipDial allows businesses to use this cultural practice as a marketing opportunity. Should someone missed call a business, ZipDial can immediately send an SMS message of the day’s latest deals and promotions. In 2015, this startup was acquired by Twitter.


The Challenge of the Customer Experience


No matter where you go, the principles of customer service and competition are going to apply. If you can create a superior customer experience compared to your competitors, it will give you an edge in the business world. These examples of SMS messaging in Asia perfectly fit that mold. If the existing process for purchasing bus tickets is archaic and slow, the market is ripe for a new solution to disrupt everything. When smart phones penetrate these markets further, you will likely see comparable mobile apps begin to rise, but these businesses are targeting the existing market and therefore using the technologies that make the most sense for their market.

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