Let’s get your primary question out of the way, “Is an e-Loading business still viable?”
According to the January 2021 Global Prepaid Index study of mobile load platform Ding, 83% of Filipino respondents still use mobile prepaid products1. This means that roughly 4 out of 5 Filipinos use prepaid mobile accounts.
It remains a huge market, and it means that there’s still an opportunity to profit from running an e-loading business in the Philippines.
Related: Ultimate List of Best Business Ideas in the Philippines
Table of Contents
- What Is an e-Loading Business?
- Is an E-Loading Business Worth Your Time and Effort?
How to Start an E-Loading Business: 6 Steps
- 1. Do Research on Your Market
2. Choose to Be a Single or Multi-Network E-Load Seller
- a. Single Network Load Seller
- b. Multi-Network Load Seller
- c. Single vs. Multi-Network Load Seller: Which Is Better for You?
- 3. Check Your Phone’s Compatibility
- 4. Acquire a SIM Retailer Card or Register a Free Account Through a Third-Party Multi-Network Dealer
- 5. Buy Your Pre-Paid Load
- 6. Market Your E-Load
- Tips and Warnings
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is an e-Loading Business?
An e-loading business involves purchasing prepaid cellphone load directly from Globe or Smart or through a third-party distributor such as Coins.ph and Load Central. You then sell the prepaid cellphone load to customers at a profit.
It’s that simple. That’s why e-load selling is an entry-level business that almost anybody can do at nearly any capacity.
However, unlike starting a franchise business, the potential earnings are relatively small. On the upside, it requires significantly less capital and is a much simpler business to run. This is because there is no physical inventory and store to manage just like in a dropshipping business.
Is an E-Loading Business Worth Your Time and Effort?
While income might be small, it could still be a worthy business endeavor as a sideline or to augment the sales of your other existing businesses. Having e-load readily available for sale to customers adds reasons for people to contact you or visit your store, leading to an increase in foot traffic or sales of your other products.
The key to making your e-loading business worthwhile is to keep things as simple as possible. Because of the low financial barrier of running an e-loading business, the biggest cost and risk of running one is the time and effort you’ll spend. Only expand or specialize your operations once you’ve established a solid customer base and a good feel for the e-loading business.
How to Start an E-Loading Business: 6 Steps
1. Do Research on Your Market
It’s always wise to get a good feel for your market before investing money in any business, including e-loading.
You need to gauge the likelihood of making an e-loading business successful. You also need to define your personal financial goals and if the amount of effort you’re willing to put in can help you reach those goals.
Here are a few questions to help you in your decision making:
a. For e-Loading Business Success
- How many prepaid users do I know?
- Which networks do they use?
- Do I have an idea of their load buying habits?
- Do I have a market to which I can reliably sell my load, such as family, friends, or my existing business’ regular customers?
- Am I the best or most convenient option for buying load for my customers, or is competition in my area too stiff?
- At what price can I sell my load to them? Is there any added value I can provide to them to justify asking for a higher price, such as convenience?
b. For Justifying the Investment
- How much do I need to earn to make this endeavor worth my time?
- How much more time and effort am I willing to put in to find more customers, given the potential earnings of an e-loading business?
- Is there a danger that my potential customers will end up not paying me?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a much better idea if you want to push through with the e-loading business or not.
2. Choose to Be a Single or Multi-Network E-Load Seller
If you’re ready to be an e-load seller, you should know that you can choose to be a single or multi-network load seller. Each type excels in different scenarios, so carefully choose which one you will be.
a. Single Network Load Seller
The traditional route of selling e-load is by acquiring a retailer SIM card for the network you want to sell e-load for. You can contact the corresponding telecom companies through their hotline or business centers to get one. After you activate your retailer SIM, you can already sell e-load to your customers.
In this model, you’d need extra SIMs and phones for each network you want to sell e-load for. That’s why it’s recommended to stick to just one, so you don’t invest more money than is necessary.
Here are the associated costs related to starting your single-network e-loading business:
- Cellphone (Free to ₱1,000) – You will need a cellphone to use your retailer SIM with regardless of which network you choose. You don’t need a brand-new phone or a smartphone. Almost any spare phone produced and sold within the past 20 years and compatible with your chosen network should work. If this is not an option, a brand-new basic cell phone can typically cost you less than ₱1,000. Avoid buying anything more expensive than that if you are using it only to sell e-load.
- Retailer SIMs (₱65 – ₱600) – a retailer SIM will cost you between ₱65 and ₱600 depending on how much pre-loaded e-load is already there.
ii. Profit Margins
There are three sources of profit when selling e-load as a single network seller:
- Commissions or rebates – amounting to anywhere from 7% to 13% of the load amount.
- Added transaction fee – the adjustable transaction fee or “patong” that you charge your customers each time you sell them load. This amount is completely dependent on you. It’s recommended to charge between ₱2 to ₱5 for every sale, depending on the transaction amount. You can adjust accordingly depending on your customers’ ability to buy load and the prices of other competitive e-load sellers.
- Special Promos and Cashbacks – both Smart and Globe2have regular promos, rebates, and cashbacks that can increase your profits which you can find on their social media pages or get through their accredited distributors on occasion. Shopee also has its own Flashback and Cashback promos that can get you up to a 50% discount off your purchased load. These promos can drastically improve your profitability, but they are seasonal and unpredictable. They should be treated as opportunistic bargains instead of reliable sources of regular savings or earnings. Here is a sample profit chart of how much you can expect to earn monthly by being a single network seller:
At a conservative estimate of 5 customers per day, you can expect a daily profit of ₱23. This is assuming that you sell at ₱20 each with an added transaction fee of ₱2 per transaction. You can earn as much as ₱690 per month if you sell at this rate for 30 days a month. You can make more if you increase the volume of your daily e-load sales.
b. Multi-Network Load Seller
In this model, you are not limited to selling only one kind of e-load. You can choose from several third-party sellers that carry loads of multiple networks, including:
- Coins.ph – transactions are done through their mobile app. There are no setup fees and no need for any retailer SIM. You can get started selling e-load in as quick as 1 hour, and you can load your wallet for as low as ₱15.
- PayMaya – transactions are also done through their mobile app, and there are also no transaction fees nor a need to get a retailer SIM. Processing your account will take up to 2 days.
- LoadCentral – you can sell prepaid load through a standard mobile phone3 , their android app, or through the LoadCentral Webtool on their website4 . There is no need for a specific retailer SIM card, and registration is free5 .
- Telepreneur Corporation – also known as TPC, this is an MLM direct selling business that deals with e-loading. They sell various packages, including retailer SIM card only packages, as well as packages that already include a cellphone and a tarpaulin for your marketing efforts.
Since this is an MLM business, you will likely buy your package from sub-dealers that you can find on the internet through Shopee, Facebook, and YouTube. Use the search terms “TPC”, “Telepreneur E-load Business” or “TPC retailer”.
There is no need to acquire a special retailer SIM or have a separate phone to operate your e-loading business if you’re going with Coins.ph, PayMaya or LoadCentral. All they require you to create an account with them via their respective website or mobile app, which you can download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
Only Telepreneur requires a SIM, which you can buy from them.
Kinds of E-Load You Can Carry as a Multi-Network Seller
All of these third-party distributors give you the capability to sell e-load of most of the major telecom networks, including:
- Talk `N Text (TNT)
- Touch Mobile (TM)
- Cherry Prepaid
Tip: Pay for your e-load through services with minimal to no transaction fees. One example of this is paying for Coins.ph transactions through Unionbank. Unionbank has a 100% rebate deal, which means that you do not have to pay them extra for the load that you buy.
Here are the associated costs related to starting your multi-network e-loading business:
- Cellphone (Free to ₱5,000) – Most third-party distributors will allow you to use your personal smartphone or tablet without any problem because you only need to use their corresponding app. If you don’t want to use your personal smartphone or don’t have one that’s compatible with the third-party distributor’s app, then a brand-new entry-level smartphone can cost you a little under ₱5,000.
That’s why it’s recommended to use your existing phone or purchase a functional second-hand phone at a better price. Avoid buying anything more expensive than that to maximize your profit and minimize your risk.
ii. Profit Margins
There are two major sources of profit when selling e-load as a multi-network seller:
- Commissions or rebates – amounting to 5% to 10% of the load amount
- Added transaction fee – Same as with single network selling, this is your “patong” and its amount is entirely dependent on you. However, make sure to check the prices of your competitors.
Here is a sample profit chart of how much you can expect to earn monthly by being a multi-network seller.
At a conservative estimate of 5 customers per day, you can expect to make a daily profit of ₱20, which is ₱3 less per day than a single-network seller. This is assuming that you can sell at ₱20 each with an added transaction fee of ₱2 per transaction.
You can earn as much as ₱600 per month if you sell at this rate for 30 days a month. By increasing the volume you sell daily, you can earn more.
You might have noticed that the margins are lower than that of a single-network seller. This is because a middleman, the third-party distributor, was added between you and the network. The middleman also has to get a cut of the profits; that’s why the margins are lower.
c. Single vs. Multi-Network Load Seller: Which Is Better for You?
The answer to this depends on your target market and how you will be selling your load. There are scenarios where one is better than the other.
i. Scenarios where being a single network seller is your best option
- An employee selling to colleagues who only use one network. If you are currently employed but want to earn money on the side, selling load to your co-workers can be a profitable and low-maintenance endeavor. If most of your co-workers have prepaid accounts that use the same mobile network, you can capitalize on that opportunity and sell to them.
- A housewife or a work-from-home person selling to neighbors, family, and friends who use the same network. If you’re close with your neighbors and know which network they use, they can be your primary market. Just avoid any excessive “pautang” as it may lead to profit losses or ruined relationships if things go wrong.
ii. Scenarios where being a multi-network seller is your best option
- Sari-sari store owners – having the capability to sell multiple kinds of load will be more beneficial to you since you will likely deal with various customers who are using different networks.
- Convenience stores, internet shops, bakeries, and other small business owners with a storefront – the same applies to these kinds of businesses. The more foot traffic and the more diversified your customer base is, the more sensible it will be for you to offer e-load for different networks.
- Entrepreneurs with an existing smartphone – since you already have the equipment necessary to start your e-loading, this will be your quickest and easiest route to start selling e-load as a side business. There is no need to buy a retailer SIM or a spare phone. This minimizes your risks and simplifies your operations.
3. Check Your Phone’s Compatibility
If you opt to become a single-network seller, you only need a basic cell phone to get started. Using an existing spare phone is recommended to avoid unnecessary expenses that can eat into your profits. If you have doubts about your phone’s compatibility, ask your Smart or Globe dealer if your phone can support their retailer SIM.
Should you choose to be a multi-network seller, your existing smartphone will suffice as long as it can run the seller’s mobile app. You don’t need a separate dedicated phone for your e-loading business. You can visit the following websites of third-party distributors for more information.
To see if your smartphone can run the seller’s mobile app, download it on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. If your current phone does not support the app, you may have to purchase a smartphone that does.
4. Acquire a SIM Retailer Card or Register a Free Account Through a Third-Party Multi-Network Dealer
a. For Single-Network Sellers: Acquire a Retailer SIM
To become a single network load seller, you would have to acquire a retailer SIM from the corresponding telecom and have a cellphone to use it with.
You can call the Smart retailer hotline at (02) 8845-7733 to ask an agent, or visit their website6for more details. You can also visit any branch of these establishments:
- San Roque Supermarket
- Super 8
- SM Savemore, SM Hypermarket
You can visit your nearest Globe store7. It’s recommended to call ahead of time to ensure that there are available retailer SIMs for purchase and to comply with their COVID-19 safety protocols, which have been in effect since October 2020.
If your local store does not have an available landline number, call Globe’s Customer Service Hotline at 211 or Sales Hotline (02)7730-1010.
b. For Multi-Network Sellers
Registration is free and done via their corresponding mobile apps or websites.
5. Buy Your Pre-Paid Load
a. For Single-Network Sellers
Your retailer SIM may come pre-loaded, but you can check the load buying channels available to you if you need more load.
- For Smart, contact your Provincial Distributor or Distributor Sales Personnel (DSP) if you have a store location. If you don’t have a store location, you may visit the nearest 7-11 store.
- For Globe, you can directly buy your load through their website or their GlobeOne mobile App. You can also call their Customer Service Hotline 211 or Sales Hotline (02)7730-1010 and ask where to find your local Globe territorial distributor to purchase your load from them.
b. For Multi-Network Sellers
After registering through a 3rd party app, you can follow their app’s respective load buying instructions.
- Coins.ph – cash in through bank or remittance centers to buy load8. It is recommended to use the Unionbank option because they offer a 100% free rebate to your Coins.ph wallet.
- Paymaya – you can add funds through any of their available partners.
- Loadcentral – you can add funds via bank deposits or through online banking9.
6. Market Your E-Load
Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers that you’re ready to sell. Make your service as easily accessible to others to make you their first choice for their e-loading needs.
For small business owners, put up small signage in front of your cashier or place a simple poster on your storefront to let customers know what kind of load you’re selling.
Tips and Warnings
1. Never sell on credit and monitor your load disbursements carefully
Regardless of which method you choose, the margins for selling load can be small and the potential profit per month is fairly meager. Because of the nature of the small transactions, you should avoid “pautang”, especially from first-time or irregular customers.
Even 1 to 2 unpaid debts out of every 10 successful transactions can potentially eat into all of your profits and lead to an unsuccessful business.
Additionally, carefully monitor all of your load disbursements to your customers. Keep all your purchase receipts and track how much load you’ve bought and sold.
This is to help you monitor your daily and monthly profit and protect you from cases where the load you’ve sold to your customers does not push through. Contact your load seller to check what happened during the process if there is a failure in the transaction.
2. Be careful when buying from non-official e-load dealers and distributors
If none of the official channels of acquiring a retailer SIM is available to you, you can also go the informal route of buying a retailer SIM through Lazada or Shopee. There are several sellers where you can purchase a retailer SIM for Smart or Globe for as low as ₱65.
Since these are not official channels, you should know that there is a risk involved. But due to the low cost of these SIMs and ease of access to these retailers, it may be worth your while to check it out, but only if the other official options are not available to you.
Check out the Lazada or Shopee retailers’ reviews and ratings to reduce the risk of getting scammed.
Lastly, if you choose to buy load from a small third-party distributor, make sure to research the business or seller. Check if they have the necessary local business permits or accreditations such as a DTI or SEC registration.
Reputable businesses will usually have an official website where you can find more information on them. If they don’t have one, it is better to err on the side of caution and look for a more official alternative.
3. Simplify your operations
E-load selling is a business that’s best done as a sideline or an addition to what you already have. It can give you a good profit which can help augment your existing salary or business operations.
However, It will be hard to rely solely on e-loading as your primary source of income because of the low margins and the many sources of load buying options available to your customers.
To make your e-loading business worthwhile, keep your operations as simple and as low-maintenance as possible. Here are some tips to help you better manage your operations:
- Avoid spending too much on promotional print materials and posters. Keep your signage, if any, simple.
- Keep track of your sales and load purchases. Separate your personal load purchases from your e-loading business to avoid mix-ups.
- Make your services readily available but do not compromise the time and effort you spend on other more significant sources of income for your e-loading business.
- Check out the social media pages of your load suppliers for possible discounts.
4. Minimize your risks
Avoid unnecessary expenses. An old spare phone or your current smartphone will be enough to start an e-loading business. Any added expenses that you incur will make turning a profit harder for you.
Only expand your operations and buy a phone if you are left with no other choice. If you decide to buy one, don’t overspend by buying an unnecessary high-end phone.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much load should you have always readily available?
This will depend on how fast and easy you can acquire load from your source. It’s generally recommended to keep a manageable level of not more than seven days’ worth of load.
Loading too much can lead to cash flow problems or the temptation of using the e-load for yourself. Keeping just the right amount will help you avoid both.
This also simplifies your operations so that you only need to buy load once per week while having enough in case there is a sudden surge of demand on any given day.
2. Can I sell e-load using Gcash?
Yes, you can sell e-load using an existing GCash account. With the ‘Buy Load’ feature on the Gcash app, you can use your account’s balance to buy and then sell load. For detailed instructions, check out this easy 5-step guide for selling load through GCash.
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