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TextMe and Aquto partner to offer wireless data as currency

TechCrunch TechCrunch 16/06/2016 Jay Donovan

Communication service TextMe is partnering with sponsored wireless data rewards company Aquto to offer a new data loyalty program to TextMe users.

Made possible through the partnership, this program allows TextMe—whose vision is to offer “rich mobile communication (text, calls and mobile data) for free to anyone in the world”—to let their users accrue additional wireless data with major mobile phone carriers (US and international) as a reward for taking certain actions within the TextMe app.

For example, each time you watch a sponsored ad, invite friends to join TextMe or purchase additional phone call credits within the app, you can accrue a certain amount of wireless data from your carrier that can be used however you like.

This data rewards capability is made possible through Aquto’s back end service that connects and enables carriers to manage and deliver this data to individual users therefore setting up a value exchange between marketers, consumers, and carriers through the sponsorship program. In short, everyone gets something they want.

Aquto has partnered with AT&T before to create their Data Perks program which is built on the same model of rewarding sponsored actions and behaviors, but according to TextMe’s Chief Revenue Officer Julien Decot and Aquto’s CEO Susie Kim Riley, “this is the first time wireless data has been used as currency in a messaging app.”

It’s also interesting that it is now possible to work across multiple carriers instead of within a single carrier. While no one was mentioning any carrier names, Aquto seems to have partnerships listed on their website with AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Orange and PLDT so one could surmise those are the carriers going out of the gate with this. It sounds like more carrier conversations are underway, specifically for “a latin american carrier footprint by the end of this summer” according to Riley.

We’ve seen plenty of campaigns come and go touting the “free internet”, but using wireless data as a currency is interesting. Already startups like Jana (who recently raised $57 million) are creating sponsored routes to connectivity through their mCent app, but more as a real time portal for specific uses than as an unrestricted data stash. In this way, Aquto and TextMe’s open model may be an early view of an emerging trend of data as a currency.

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