NYTimes (via News.com) writes about a Philippines company which has launched a prepaid service called Smart Buddy:
Gazo, a 33-year-old housewife who lives 600 miles south of Manila in Davao City, is one of more than 100,000 mobile phone users who re-sell Smart’s cellular services through a new prepaid service called Smart Buddy e-Load. With a special $20 chip for her mobile phone, Gazo can transfer bits of air time to her friends’ and acquaintances’ phones–as little as 55 cents (30 pesos) worth.
For every $18.29 in air time she sells, Gazo collects $2.74 in commissions, turning her mobile phone into a second source of income for her family of four. “If I can earn 150 pesos a day,” Gazo said, “I don’t have to work.”
Since Smart began the program in May, Smart Buddy has exploded in popularity, giving the company a more inexpensive way of distributing service to the country’s poorest, most remote neighborhoods and villages. The first such service of its kind, Smart Buddy marries the latest in cellular commerce with a much older marketing concept of miniature packaging that helped bring middle-class amenities to developing countries decades ago.
Philippines has led the way in cellphone usage – its use of SMS is highest in the world.