Note: This article first came out in Technobiography in October 2004. Some of the services I wrote about that time have since been offered by Globe (and Smart) in one form or another. Maybe I have a third eye, ano sa tingin niyo? — Ka Edong

Globe Kababayan
Mobile Services that Improve OFWs’ Lives at Home and at Sea

This was the title of Globe’s advertorial on Libre, a free publication by Inquirer.

I read the fine print of Globe’s ad, looking for the specific service for OFWs. I was expecting to read about Globe cellphone signals in ships for seamen. Or about IDD call discounts for OFWs. But…

Nope. Nada. Nothing of that sort. It was just event sponsorship and promotion of Globe AutoloadMax – a cellphone load retailing business that isn’t uniquely made for OFWs.

If I were to design mobile services for OFWs, they would have themes like these:

  • Chearper Calls – OFWs allot a huge part of their earnings to phone home. This is how important the connection is. The telcos would be of huge service if they are able to reduce IDD costs.
  • Remittance – Smart has Smart Padala remittance service. I hear Globe is preparing a similar service.
  • OFW Information – procedures, embassy hotlines, OFW support groups/NGOs, worker’s rights, etc.
  • Home Finance Management – enabling OFWs to pay school tuition fees or house bills or rent-to-own house payments *directly* instead of sending the money to Tito Boy who ends up making the videoke bar rich. To some extent, this is already happening as telcos allow OFWs in Hong Kong or Japan to load cellphones of relatives in the Philippines.
  • Home management – enabling OFWs to make mobile purchases of rice, groceries, clothes, books. It’s like giving their kids a P500 gift certificate at National Bookstore or SM. And the gift certificate is a text message sent to the kid’s cellphone. This text message is good as cash and will be honoured at the cashier.
  • Remote Pistahan/Birthday-an – Enabling seamen to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary or a town fiesta through tele-conferencing or mobile-video conferencing.

Something like that. Those are what would really be “Mobile Services that Improve OFWs’ Lives at Home and at Sea”

– edwin

P.S. How about you guys? What OFW services do you have in mind? Comments welcome…

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