Prepaid phonecard operator SmarTel has made an agreement with New Zealand Post which will see its cards being able to be activated and loaded with calling time at any Post Shop.
The company expects New Zealand Post to take the system to the countries where it has been contracted to consult on or run postal systems, including Argentina, South Africa and Malaysia. The New Zealand Post system will launch here in several weeks.
The cards themselves are simply pices of laminated plastic, and call value is actually “loaded” on to a central database, against an ID number on the card.
Customers use the call time by dialling an 0800 number and entering the PIN number on the card before dialling.
SmarTel managing director Rob Cruickshank says the fact that the un-activated cards are almost valueless is one of the appealing features of the system.
“In effect, you’ll walk in and you’ll ask for a $10 or $20 card and the staff member will pick up a blank card and instantaneously add the value to it at the till.
“There’s no value at all on the card until then, so the cost of inventory is neglible, which is very attractive.”
SmarTel has developed an interface between New Zealand Post’s mainframe and its own switches and database, which are telehoused in Auckland by both Clear and Telstra. The basic system was originally developed by US company SmarTel Communications, which has a single--figure shareholding in SmartTel New -Zealand.
Calls made through SmartTel cards are aimed to undercut the existing rates of existing providers, but higher value calls, such as cellular and and long-distance calls, will attract the biggest discounts.