PARTNER INTERVIEW: With embedded SIM (eSIM) deployment gaining traction, Thales eSIM Generic Voucher offers MNOs a quick and seamless route to market and promote and manage different subscription offers. Pascal Di Girolamo, Marketing Director at Thales DIS (Digital Identity and Security), Mobile, spoke to Mobile World Live (MWL) about how the solution is set to drive the market’s wider evolution.

Thales is the world’s number one provider of eSIM subscription management solutions, with more than 200 platforms deployed. Thales offers a complete portfolio of field proven solutions, from hardware eSIMs, adapted to each type of device, to servers.

MWL: Can you explain the benefits of using the eSIM Generic Voucher for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)?
Pascal Di Girolamo (PDG): For eSIM, we identified many different enrolment methods. This could be through digital or physical vouchers, in addition to GSMA Discovery Services and mobile carrier application for instance.

We were aware that, for the time being, the main enrolment method for MNOs was the QR code. The QR code is already successful. So, we decided to design a new concept that could furthermore ease deployment of such solutions and identify a new way to reach the customer.

MNOs are still keen on traditional methods, such as a QR code, but here we are finding different ways to create and publish it. Today, when there is a QR code, MNOs may have to manage the process. Indeed, a QR code is traditionally associated to one eSIM subscription. In this case MNOs have to pre-provision the code, provision the platform and produce a certain number of QR codes that correspond to different subscriptions.

With a generic QR code, they can associate one QR code to a pool of eSIM subscriptions. This is a way for the MNOs to manage the logistics of the process, while promoting and pushing it to their customers much more easily and massively. For example, you could be in the street with no intention of going to a MNO’s kiosk or an agency to buy a subscription for a QR code to use on an eSIM capable device. However, you could see a promotion on a poster, or any other support like a newspaper or a digital screen, scan the QR code and get an eSIM subscription instantly.

Thales Generic Voucher suite of solutions offer our customers (MNOs) the flexibility to create generic QR codes for their segments and manage marketing campaign lifecycles.

With the eSIM Generic Voucher, MNOs are able to increase their customer reach, as they can onboard and enroll more easily than before.

Our solution is also adapted for seamless cross-selling activities. Indeed, with the publication of QR codes, it offers MNOs new business opportunities with third party partners. For example, hotel companies, travel companies and so on, who would advertise the MNO’s service, would also be able to push the generic QR Code.

Our solution streamlines customer acquisition costs with a more cost-effective and efficient method of reaching new customers and managing their subscriptions.

MWL: Why would consumers use solutions like this over traditional methods when roaming?
PDG: The ease of using such a solution when travelling is a huge selling point. Our customers, the MNOs, see a major advantage in promoting the generic QR code at airports, for instance, with inbound travellers looking for roaming options. When a customer arrives in a country, instead of going to a kiosk to buy a local pre-paid SIM, they could simply use a poster. A poster from a local MNO could contain a QR code which could immediately be scanned to download an eSIM subscription that meets your needs. Other options would be the purchase of prepaid subscriptions from home. Indeed, rather than purchasing prepaid eSIM subscriptions when abroad, customers can instead buy prepaid eSIM subscriptions in their home country, scanning a QR code from the MNO’s web portal.

In any cases the solution is based on a local subscription in the destination country, thereby avoiding premium charges. Compared to traditional methods, this innovative eSIM offer provides a smarter and more convenient way to stay connected while traveling.

MWL: How can enterprises tap into this type of solution? What are the benefits for global companies?
PDG: For enterprises, the major use case lies with addressing their employee’s needs, offering a common subscription across their workforce. Today, many organisations have to manage a large stock of subscriptions, which means heavy logistics and higher costs.

We know this solution is much more cost-effective. For employers that supply eSIM capable devices, they can serve their employees with a single QR code – very easy to create and generate. Of course, employers can then add security controls such as a confirmation code

We know there is interest in the generic QR code. Analysts forecast high ramp-up of eSIM capable devices within 2 years, therefore many employers will equip their employees, as part of their renewal policy, with eSIM capable devices. Some customers are already preparing for this, and we are engaging with them.

MWL: How does the family bundle work and why was this an important addition to the service?
PDG: As with enterprises, when you define a certain QR code, you associate a profile type to that code. This approach is similar for a family bundle. We already know that MNOs offer a bundle for family subscriptions, and this concept is very similar.

Our customers want a tool, integrated with the Thales Generic Voucher tool, to create a bundle of subscriptions for a family. This family bundle associates one QR code with multiple subscriptions. For the time being, all subscriptions are identical and they have to provision the code with the right profile packages, that correspond to a set of bundles. This is the initial phase. Once the processes are ready and we have the generic QR code for that bundle, it can be pushed out via the MNO web portal or even via email, leaving the consumers to log in. They can then scan the QR code on compatible devices.

MWL: How can the eSIM Generic Voucher solution provide a boost for the eSIM market as a whole?
PDG: We think that eSIM Generic Voucher is one enrolment method that can contribute to boosting the eSIM market, if MNOs take the decision to promote it. With our Generic Voucher suite of solutions, we can give them all the tools, through partnerships and introducing third party partners.

We think the Generic Voucher is an easy way to reach the end user who wants to get an eSIM subscription. It’s also easy to use and can contribute to a good conversion rate, acquire new customers and maintain a customer base. This includes providing multiple subscriptions on a handset, a new source of revenue, new acquisitions of customers and service revenue.

In addition, initial digital enrolment can be completed with Thales Trusted Digital ID Service Platform, comprising Digital ID verification, including biometrics, in line with relevant ID verification regulations.

MWL: How do you believe the eSIM market will evolve as uptake increases?
PDG: All industry players must collaborate to its evolution. We know it will be a success. The question is when, and at what rate, will the penetration of eSIM increase? The Generic Voucher solution is a good example of boosting the usage of eSIM.

We also have to consider the strategy of OEMs and MNO players. For sure, we expect device manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Google, Motorola, Huawei and the other Chinese players to position themselves with eSIM capable devices.

This will democratise and increase the volume of eSIM usage. We also need to continue to inform our customers that these solutions and promotions are available. MNOs need to be visible with eSIM promotions without any fear of churn, but on the contrary, to acquire new customers and offer new services.

With digitisation and new processes, we are also looking at growth through the IoT market, further supported by the growth of 5G networks. IoT has multiple segments, which all can use eSIM technology and this could dramatically increase volume.

We are looking at a billion eSIM deployments in the market within three to four years.

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