Zero-rating (which is also called toll-free data or sponsored data) is the practice of mobile network operators not charging end customers for data used by specific applications or internet services through their network.
The practical effect for end-users is that using a zero-rated app means they incur no data cost or deduction 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
For the past 18 months, the biNu app has been “zero-rated” by Econet, the largest mobile network operator in Zimbabwe. This came about through another Econet project, EcoSchool, that used biNu technology to to deliver university textbooks on low-cost Android tablets via a subscription pricing model.
The consequence of being zero-rated in Zimbabwe led to viral growth of monthly active users, plus as much as 10x higher end-user engagement. Over 85% of users had Android smartphone devices.
Usage growth was further sustained by an increased focus on providing locally relevant content, driven mainly by general news plus soccer scores and news.
Zero-rating Key Learning
By removing the barrier of data cost affordability you realise exponential usage growth, in terms of monthly active users as well as user engagement.