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Singtel, Credit Cards, M1 and Huawei – Feb 2021

Singtel Shows IT AND Payment Still have some ways to go in Singapore

Singtel has suffered a major breach of data this month and was lauded by Alfred Siew of Techgoondu. While there are lessons to be learnt, what is painfully obvious is that the data is still relevant, especially credit cards, even after a period of time has lapsed. Just take a look at your card’s expiry date and the see how long the card is in circulation. We don’t change the cards often enough to at least deter the data from being misused.

And there is also the question about overseas usage. Most of us would assume the credit cards can be locked away from transactions that are done overseas to prevent fraud. To that end I have only allowed two credit cards to be used overseas and charges in foreign currencies shouldn’t be allowed. At least that is a normal consumer understanding. However, it seems to my knowledge all bets are off if you add the cards to Apple Pay where all the controls set by the banks can be circumvented very easily. If a card, added through fraud or by the legal owner of the card, can go around the locks set by the customers just by using Apple Pay or Google Pay, then why are the banks or credit card companies giving us a false sense of security by saying a card is locked up from overseas transactions? That is simply not acceptable. How many times do you see shopping sites such as Shopee, Qoo10 and Lazada approving purchases without requiring the use of the 2nd factor authentication? I have lost count and have decided to use a debit card to make my purchases now.

The way I see it, despite the government push to improve our IT industry even to the point of importing more IT workers from a particular country, our collective reputation as a IT hub especially in Security, did not have a stellar record. The unfortunate part of it all is that the security of our financial services depends on two governmental entities – the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority. If an international payment system such as Wirecard can still operate in Singapore after it was shut down in Europe, it just shows there is a gap between these two governmental agencies.

M1 Comes with New Phone Plan But Is It Enough?

Techgoondu has reported that M1’s new management has introduced new plans to attract customers. It was only in 1997 that M1 was introduced to be a competitor to Singtel using the new CDMA network. Starhub also joined the fray soon after. I remember how M1 literally caused some stir and those who are pissed with Singtel, immediately changed to them.

I can be considered one of the pioneer customers while studying for my degree in NTU. That number has been with me since and is now parked with Circles Life, who is the catalyst for more consumer friendly changes in the last few years.

Thanks to Circles Life, having 40GB of data at just $24.95 is now the norm and does not cause as much sensation as a couple of years ago. While many will think more is merry, how many of us are struggling to use up the data by the end of the month when we have Wi-Fi access when working from home? The pull of giving more data is not as strong as before, and it is maintaining status quo at best.

As a consumer advocate myself, I do feel that the best person who will actually help you as a consumer to save, is to save up for a particular phone and pay it either with a credit card instalment plan or in cash while using a non-contractual mobile plan. In my last calculation, one can save anywhere between $200-600 over 2 years depending on what phone you want to get.

But still kudos to M1 for allowing their customers to customise their repayment plan. But still, asking customers to pay more for 5G, in my humble opinion, is a waste of money. Yes, we have 5G handsets and also a hybrid non-standalone 5G network that is available right now. Only when Standalone 5G networks are up, utilising Millimetre-wave communication, will you see a huge uptick in data transfer speed.

Besides there are no apps that are maximising 5G speeds at the moment as well. I don’t think waiting a few seconds more will deny you from an enjoyable video streaming experience simply because such apps does not need such speed. Unless you are competing in a global online game competition that requires a super quick internet speed, we won’t see much use for this “5G”. I will still go back to the same old question – “What are you doing to convince your customers to stay with you?” The days of churning by giving good deals to only new customers are over. I will stay with my provider so long it gives me good discount towards my monthly bills Who is my provider? Grid Mobile who uses their marketing budget to reward customers who stays with them. And best of all, the network they used is Singtel, arguably the most stable amongst the telcos. In the past 7 months since Aug 2020, I have paid an average of $4.60 per month, giving me a huge discount over a $24.90 monthly bill.

Do use code “WILZGRID” to give you more Grid Mobile points towards bill discounts and share amongst friends to earn more rebates when you sign up.

Huawei Fighting Hard without Google Services

Huawei has just launched a new DigiX Lab in Singapore to support developers in using Huawei AppGallery as their platform to distribute and monetise apps. The Lab is also tasked to provide technical support to write programs and services for the Huawei Mobile Services such as speakers, smartwatches and other household items.

All good and dandy. Huawei is pushing more apps into their AppGallery. However it is still not enough.

To date, I just don’t feel AppGallery is the best place to hunt for Apps. It is too China-centric to the point doing an App search resulted in non-related apps being shown to me. Huawei tried to plug that gap by using another app called “Petal Search” so that it can help you hunt down your apps in AppGallery, other App Stores and the direct download of the .APK files from certain Websites. I managed to install Facebook this way.

But I just felt that the experience is not great because I have to use so many Apps just to get what I needed. AppGallery simply need an overhaul to appeal to the global audience and that includes improving its App searching capabilities.

It also needs to give more motivation to get non-Huawei phone owners to install AppGallery in their phones. Reward them with actual gifts or give them free Premium Apps.

If done well, people will gravitate towards using AppGallery and more developers will join the fray since that’s where all the monies are.

In the meantime if you are tech-savvy enough, I did manage to get all the apps now without using Google Play Store except for SingPass app which will come by the middle of this year. Once that arrives, I would say it is much easier for me to recommend Huawei phones to Singaporeans.

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