Thumbtom will help you reduce your mobile bills

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South African startup Thumbtom claims to be an African pioneer in lock screen rewards, helping users reduce their monthly phone bills through opt-in marketing.

Launched in December 2014, Thumbtom is a free Android app through which users set preferences. Each time the user unlocks their phone, they receive a surprise of wallpapers, content, adverts and competitions.

This delivery of opt-in marketing is designed to help users reduce their monthly bills.

“We reward users based on points for airtime, data, cinema ticket and much more. The opt-in marketing is full screen display to users with a simple swipe left or right action,” Thumbtom chief executive officer (CEO) Grant Reynolds told Disrupt Africa.

Response to the idea has been positive. Thumbtom has a total of 25,000 users and is adding 300 more each day. It sees three million unlocks per month, and has rewarded ZAR50,000 (US$3,100) in airtime in the last three months.

“We have programmes to help drive engagements with universities and students which gives users free airtime and data for every new user they engage. Those points are turned into recharge vouchers with as simple click,” Reynolds said.

“We also offer great ways for users to swipe the lock screen to enter competitions, surveys and other cool actions.”

Thumbom is in the process of adding “Swipe to Win Data”, as well as competitions based on how many unlocks a user can perform. For advertisers, the platform is based on location, with calls to action such as “Swipe to URL”, “Swipe to Like”, “Swipe to Install” or Swipe to “SMS”.

“The app is completely non-intrusive for the user, easy to install for free, and the user just continues using it like they unlock their phones every day,” Reynolds said.

“Users are always looking at adverts online and never getting any reward for them. Thumbtom rewards users for “renting” out their lock screen.”

The startup was self-funded until October last year, when it raised funds from a large media and SIM card distribution business. Though active only in South Africa currently, Reynolds does plan to launch Thumbtom across Africa and globally in the future. Revenues comes from selling advertising space on the lock screen of the user’s phone, but he said the startup gives a percentage of that advertising spend back the users.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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