Making it Work: Sim Local goes global with new technology that helps travelers avoid costly roaming charges

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Sim Local, the Ireland-based SIM card retailer, plans to triple its business over the next four years after developing technology it says will make it easier than ever for international travelers to avoid costly roaming charges .

The company, founded in 2010, employs approximately 120 people worldwide, including 43 in Ireland. It sells packages to intercontinental travelers that give them access to local networks for data, calls and texts, saving them the hassle and expense of using their own SIM card on another continent.

Sim Local now has standalone stores in several airports around the world, as well as 300 contracted outlets around the world where it sells its prepaid SIM cards, according to Killian Whelan, its founder and chief executive.

“There are 300 million intercontinental travelers traveling every year,” Whelan said. “That’s the size of the market for us.”

In addition to its own stores, Sim Local works in partnership with airport retailers around the world, meaning customers can walk into a store, pick up one of its packages, and get up and running on their new card. SIM in minutes.

This saves them the hassle normally associated with inserting a new SIM card into a phone, as Sim Local has made deals with mobile phone providers and developed a plug-and-play solution.

The Enterprise Ireland-backed business has been hit hard by Covid-19, with air travel blocked due to restrictions in countries around the world. The company’s sales fell 5% from pre-pandemic levels, and it was unclear how quickly the situation would correct. It was, Whelan said, a “horrible” time for the company.

In response, the company accelerated the development of new software aimed at the e-sim market – digital SIM cards that are expected to replace physical products over the next decade.

Instead of being a removable plastic card inside a phone, an e-sim is a small chip built into a handset. Users scan a QR code to load it onto their phone and can carry up to six in a single device.

For Sim Local, the development represents a big opportunity, Whelan explained, as it can work with carriers to create e-sims for international travelers and make it easier for them to get a local SIM card in the country they are visiting. render.

The company offers these network providers access to intercontinental travelers because it handles the marketing and point-of-sale portion of the operation, meaning they don’t have to do that work.

“We can tell them: our software is going to allow you to sell e-sim cards to customers who travel abroad, and that’s a huge market,” he said.

In 2021, Sim Local received an investment from Cardinal Capital Group, the €250 million private equity investment firm, demonstrating the fund’s confidence that its product would bounce back from the pandemic.

Whelan said the company has now recovered 80% of its pre-Covid revenue and expects significant growth due to the development of the e-sim market.

“Digital developments in trains is something that really excites us,” he said. “It will give us the combination of sales of physical simulations and also virtual activities through our software.”

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