Getting a data connection overseas can be a traumatic experience, especially if you’re a data freak obsessed with sharing every waking moment of your life on social networks.
Usually, it involves heading to an airport counter, getting prepaid data plan, swapping your SIM cards, and activating the service. Not to mention scrutinizing confusing price plans to decide among them.
Handy, a new smartphone rental service that’s available in Hong Kong and Singapore, is simplifying the whole process. In essence, it wants to give travelers the feeling that they’ve never left home. Well, at least data-wise.
Its pricing structure is simple. At SGD 15 or HKD 68 a day, tourists get to rent a Samsung Galaxy Note, which comes loaded with guide apps, unlimited 3G data, local and international calls. Tethering is allowed too, a feature that many telcos disable.
Beyond connectivity and information, Handy provides special offers from local merchants, sourced by the startup’s in-house sales team. It’s a useful feature not just for discounts but also as a discovery mechanism to help tourists make the most of their vacation time.
Customers would need to pick up their devices at a service counter, pay on the spot, and return the phones to the same location before heading back to their home country.
The idea is pretty novel, and for its comprehensiveness, the price sounds reasonable. While a large chunk of travelers may not even buy data overseas, or would be content with existing plans supplied by telcos, a segment of tourists won’t mind shelling a little bit more for a fuss-free experience.
Handy launched first in Hong Kong before expanding to Singapore earlier this month. Hong Kong based Tink Labs is the company behind the service. Founded by Terence Kwok, the startup has raised a seed round from private investors. Terence is joined by CTO Philip Yuen, an investor and serial entrepreneur who has started two other tech companies — TextPayMe and CupidsPlay, which was sold to Zynga.
Handy is by no means the first mobile device rental service aimed at tourists. A number of smartphone rental services exist in Japan, while Singapore has TouristPad, a company that loans iPads to tourists.
The rise of these rental services is no accident. Asia’s fragmented markets may be a big problem for startups who want to scale, but Handy is in a unique position to take advantage of the situation.
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