Best in the world: Smart gets int’l nod for various projects

Published December 23, 2014

Wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) again proved that the Philippines can stand tall in the field of telecommunications and digital innovation, having won 14 international awards in Europe, North America, and Asia in 2014.

Early this month, Smart was named Best Mobile Operator at the World Communication Awards (WCA) in London for giving millions of Filipinos access to non-traditional mobile services in an affordable and convenient manner.

Last year, Smart introduced PowerApp, a mobile application that allows users to access Internet bundles relevant to them – Photo, Social, Chat, Email, and Unli packages – for as low as P5 per day. Recently, Smart launched the Free Internet promo to all its subscribers to enable more Filipinos to enjoy the benefits of mobile Internet.

World-class innovations

Smart’s first international citation for the year was the Innovation Award from the TMT Finance & Investment Asia Awards in Hong Kong. The company was recognized for its world-first innovations such as Smart Money, an electronic wallet linked to a mobile phone; Smart Load, an over-the-air prepaid reloading service offering airtime in sachet-like packages; and Pasaload, which allows subscribers to pass airtime credits to each other.

Another innovative service that received recognition was SmartNet, which won the Operator OTT (Over-The-Top) Service Launch Award last February at the inaugural Awards in Spain. SmartNet is a platform that offers the use of popular mobile apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and Facebook Chat for free. The “Freemium” model gives people a taste of what mobile Internet has to offer – without fear of unexpected data charges – and promotes the growth of mobile Internet usage among Smart subscribers.

Meanwhile, Spinnr was named Best Content Service at the Asia Communication Awards (ACA) in Singapore last June. Spinnr is the Philippines’ biggest online music portal which enables users to stream and download songs at affordable rates, and pay for the service using their prepaid load or via postpaid charging.

Leadership in the mobile money space

Smart also asserted its leadership in the mobile money space, along with subsidiary Smart e-Money, Inc. (SMI). The companies’ mobile money services for Help.PH won three international awards in 2014 – Best Community Telecom Project at the Telecom Asia Awards in Indonesia last May, Best Mobile Payments Implementation at Smart Awards Asia in Singapore last April, and Social Contribution Award at the WCA.

Help.PH is a global fundraising campaign organized by the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda. It allowed mobile phone users from all over the world to give donations for Yolanda survivors by simply sending a text message. The donated amounts were deducted from their prepaid load or charged to their postpaid bill.

helpPH log

Another Smart and SMI project for Yolanda survivors, the Mobile Cash Transfer Program, won the Mobile Money Award at the Meffys Awards in the US last November. Initiated in December 2013 in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), the program was rolled out in hard-hit Tacloban City as a payment fulfillment facility for the cash-for-work disaster relief intervention of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

LANDBANK issued cash cards to disburse the wages of those who participated in the UNDP initiative. Beneficiaries could use these cards to withdraw money from any bank ATM. The cards were linked to their Smart mobile number, enabling Smart to notify them via SMS when money was credited to their account.

Disaster prevention and response efforts

Smart’s quick network restoration and emergency response efforts in the aftermath of Yolanda – under the program SafePH – were also recognized at the prestigious GSMA Global Mobile Awards in Spain as the “Best Use of Mobile in Emergency or Humanitarian Situations.” The awards program is dubbed the Oscars of the mobile industry.

GSMA Global Mobile Awards ceremony

Smart chief wireless advisor Orlando B. Vea [second from left] and Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon L. Nazareno [third from left] receive an award for SafePH at the GSMA Global Mobile Awards ceremony in Spain

Judges said SafePH was commendable “on many levels: preparedness, partnerships, and the rolling out of a whole portfolio of services aimed at improving communications access for the affected community in a rapid response fashion.”

Meanwhile, Smart’s Green Merchandising program garnered two international citations this year – the Green Technology Award at the Awards this month in London, and first runner-up for resource efficiency at the ASEAN Corporate Sustainability Awards last March.

Smart is the first Philippine company to use the environment-friendly stone paper in the production of its advertising and merchandising materials. Unlike plastic, stone paper degrades under the sun and eventually becomes stone again. Smart has also been using recyclable banners and recycled paper for its posters, flyers, and other materials.

Aside from using eco-friendly materials, Smart tapped its adopted Gawad Kalinga village in Iloilo – a community of former trash scavengers – to turn its used tarpaulin materials into a livelihood source. Aside from donating used tarp which are upcycled into bags, tents, and other materials, Smart provided funding and helped train the residents to effectively manage their livelihood and market their products.

The livelihood program called “Project Zero” has led to an increase in income among community members, and to company savings from tarp retrieval and storage.

Asia’s top employer

On top of its achievements as a wireless services provider and a socially responsible company, Smart also received recognition as an employer, having been named the Best Place to Work at the ACA and the Top Employer at the Asia CEO Awards last November.

Smart has surpassed global employee engagement standards, with 92% of its workforce saying they felt proud to be associated with the company because of its image and contribution to society. Even as other companies suffer from high employee turnover rates, Smart has kept loyalty levels high, with majority of its 5,000-strong workforce having been with the company for at least 11 years.

World-class youth campaign

Last June, Smart’s Jump In campaign received a merit citation at the Gold Quill Awards in Canada. The Gold Quill is a global symbol of excellence in business communication.

The Jump In campaign is an initiative to encourage young Filipino barkadas or peer groups to embrace changes and challenges that would enable them to “Live More.” Using traditional and social media, the campaign encouraged the youth to switch to Smart to avail themselves of exclusive promos which are both barkada- and budget-friendly.