Zero-rating is also known as toll-free data or sponsored data. It’s where mobile network operators do not charge end customers for data used by specific applications or internet services through their network.

For end users, it’s a big win. Using a zero-rated app means they incur no data cost or deductions from their airtime balance. And even when their SIM airtime balance is exhausted they can still freely use a zero-rated app.

The biNu App is Zero-rated

Eighteen months ago, biNu became zero-rated by Econet, the largest mobile network operator in Zimbabwe. This came about through another Econet project, EcoSchool, that used biNu technology to deliver university textbooks on low-cost Android tablets via a subscription pricing model.

As a consequence of being zero-rated in Zimbabwe, we achieved viral growth of monthly active users, plus as much as 10x higher end-user engagement. Over 85% of users had Android smartphone devices.

We also sustained usage growth through increasing the focus on providing locally relevant content. In Zimbabwe, this local content revolved around general news, plus soccer scores and news.

Zero-rating Key Learning

By removing the barrier of data cost affordability you realize exponential usage growth. Both in terms of the numbers of monthly active users and increased user engagement.