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Singapore telco offers unlimited WeChat to Chinese tourists

StarHub's new SIM card addresses millennials' need to stay connected

StarHub Chief Executive Tan Tong Hai, second from the right, hopes to tap into the mobile data needs of the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Singapore.

SINGAPORE -- StarHub, Singapore's second-largest telco, is tying up with China's messaging app WeChat to launch a new SIM card that will offer travelers unlimited WeChat messages, and meet the data needs of Chinese tourists in Singapore.

The prepaid StarHub WeChat Go SIM will be sold directly through online travel agencies, including Mafengwo, Toncheng Tourism, and Qyer.com, and enable tourists to cover their data needs ahead of departure. In Singapore, the SIM card will be available at Changi Airport, 7-Elevens, and StarHub stores. 

StarHub's tourist SIM cards have been available in Singapore for some time, but this is the first time the products are being marketed directly to visitors from China who want stay connected with family and friends while traveling. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, tourist arrivals from China increased 36% in 2016 year on year. WeChat -- or Weixin in Chinese -- had 963 million active users in June 2017.

"Through this alliance, visitors from China in Singapore will be able to easily stay in touch with anyone on an app they are accustomed to, without worrying about excess local data charges," said Karen Ng, general manager of mobile prepaid business at StarHub. 

StarHub will offer two types of SIM cards priced at 16 Singapore dollars ($12) and S$32, usable for 7 and 12 days respectively. Both products offer unlimited access to local SMS, WeChat, and to Lingcod TV, a video streaming app provided by China's Sunway Media, as well as some minutes for phone calls to local and Chinese numbers, and packages for local data. For tourists visiting other countries on the same trip, the SIM card offers data access in 14 countries. StarHub plans to add options such as extra data and validity extension paid for by credit card or with WeChat Pay, a mobile payment function on the app. 

According to a survey by Criteo, a marketing technology company, that covered Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, 97% of millennial travelers use social media and 75% post to social networks at least once a day.

"Millennials need to be connected when travelling, not just to share content but also to influence and be influenced," said Yvonne Chang, executive managing director of Criteo Asia Pacific. According to Chang, millennials commonly discover travel opportunities through postings on social media. 

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