MANILA, August 2, 2005
 (STAR) By Eden Estopace - After years of getting cellphone cards and load from sari-sari stores, the malls, or from enterprising office workers and students, finally we can buy electronic load from the Internet.

It seems like an upside down paradigm. Electronic load for prepaid mobiles seem more likely to be obtained from the Internet first considering the nature of the product. But blame it on the low uptake of Internet connection in this country and you have the sari-sari store pioneering the selling of a digital product that was supposed to have been the domain of the Internet.

Online loading for cellphones, game cards, Internet prepaid cards and landline cards was introduced last January by, a company formed by First Telecom Phils. Inc. and Telecom Concepts – both distributors of SIM cards, cellcards, cellphones and other telecom products for Smart Communications and Globe Telecom – and Give Me Unlimited, a software company for text messaging for corporate applications.

"What we did was automate the traditional process of loading cellphones and make it available online," says Erik Kalugdan, president of

But how do you compete with the neighborhood stores and malls in electronic loading when Internet usage is not that big yet here in the Philippines?

"We do not aim to compete. In fact, we hope to promote Internet usage and increase the Internet population by providing content and introducing a new service for online users," says Kalugdan.

The selling point is convenience, he adds. When you already have an Internet connection at home or at the office, more so if it is a broadband connection, why bother to go out to get load for your mobile when you can get it online?

For people who frequent Internet cafés, it is an added service as they can get their load either from the terminal they are using or from the counter. And you can get the same low denominations, too, as P25, P30 or P60.

This requires more sophistication, though, as an online purchase requires that you have a bank account from where the payment for the load will be debited.

Kalugdan assures that the site is secure and has all the standard protocols required of e-commerce sites. is certified by VeriSign, which means that all information sent to this site in a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) session is encrypted and is protected from disclosure to third parties.

To pay for the load, Kalugdan explains that you have to register your Bancnet or Megalink ATM account with PayPlus, an online payment gateway that facilitates the transaction and sends the purchase details to the bank. Not all Megalink or Bancnet member-banks, however, are enrolled with PayPlus at the moment. But there are 25 banks that are already accredited with the service and most likely, one of them is your depository bank.

Registering with PayPlus is also fast and easy and you can purchase load right away after signing up for the service.

All kinds of electronic load for cellphones can be purchased from – Smart Buddy, Talk ’N Text, AMP, Smart Kid, Sun Cellular, Globe and Touch Mobile. Cellcard electronic pins for them are also available.

Game Cards, a fast-rising product in the market because of the increasing popularity of online gaming, can also now be bought online such as cards for Khan, MU, Gunbound Tantra and Ragnarok.

To complement these two services, the site includes Internet card e-pins for Frequency, i-Republic, Go! Extreme, PLDT Vibe, ISP Bonanza, i-tipid Blast and Infocom, and PLDT Card e-pins for PLDT Budget Card, PLDT Telesulit and PLDT Touch Card.

Still another advantage of online loading that cannot be provided by traditional stores is that you can load multiple cellphones at the same time, view or print your transaction history and get discounts of up to six to 14 percent upon purchase of load credits.

If the service is convenient for ordinary users, it is also an opportunity to earn for retailers.

Internet café owners, proprietors of sari-sari stores, cellphone distribution outlets and other business enterprises can sell electronic load using their existing online platform. Purchases of P1,000 to P4,999 load credits entitle one to three-percent bonus credits, and purchases of P5,000 or more, six-percent bonus credits. This is on top of the six-percent discount one gets from Game Cards and Internet prepaid cards, and 14 percent from PLDT cards.

Kalugdan says the site has 3,000 members to date and with the fast uptake, they expect to increase membership by as much as tenfold before the year ends.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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