LIVE FROM GSMA M360 APAC, SEOUL: Georgiann Reigle, co-founder and CEO of device trade-in company Kingfisher (pictured), argued its partnerships with mobile operators had increased the percentage of devices swapped and, in turn, driven sustainability efforts.

In a panel session, Reigle highlighted a trade-in deal with Australian operator Telstra which provides customers the option to swap their device at any time, with a monthly charge of AUD15 ($9.60).

Devices can be traded even if users have financing, by taking out a new contract.

Reigle said the return rate of devices in the programme increased from 10 per cent to 40 per cent, without specifying a timeframe.

“That’s without the operator subsidising.”

She said the global average return rate is between 10 per cent and 20 per cent.

Kingfisher ups the lifespan of devices, Reigle said, with units recycled once they reach the end of their usable life.

Reigle argued the industry is not currently set up to promote the approach, with the company facing challenges of financial risk and inertia.

She noted companies like Kingfisher are set up to take on the risk themselves, helping operators by eliminating the downside.

Inertia is typically addressed by collaborating with various departments in an operator to get programmes off the ground.

Life interest
Reigle stressed the importance of increasing the life of mobile devices, stating manufacturing accounts for 83 per cent of the total carbon impact in the overall value chain.

Vendors are investing to ensure handsets last longer, with a usable life of up to eight years.

Consumers also are holding on to their handsets longer, but Reigle explained many do not want to keep them for eight years, while operators are keen on more frequent upgrades.

Operators are investing in 5G networks and want subscribers to be able to have the right features to take advance of the upgraded infrastructure, she said.