Mobile operator Avea started a Facebook campaign encouraging the purchase of Facebook credits through SMS payment. Users who choose to buy Facebook credits through their Avea line will receive 25% bonus credits for each purchase.
Avea Chief Strategy Officer Kadir Boysan notes that, despite the wide Facebook penetration in Turkey, “Facebook credits utilization is at 1.7%, far behind the European average of 4-5%.” Even though 31 million people use Facebook in Turkey (let’s pretend Facebook never named Turkey as a hotbed of fake accounts), where the average number of cards owned per person is 1.9, Facebook purchases have not been popular.
Sadly, Avea’s incentive of 25% appears more attractive than it is. As reported on the Mobile Payment page, the credit brackets available to mobile purchase come in certain price points… on the lower side! Considering that there are incremental bulk discounts in credit purchases, up to 20% when purchasing in the hundreds of dollars brackets, the bonus associated with the lower mobile payment loses some of its glamor. Still, it is an attractive option for impulse buyers with little budget (hint: kids with an access to a phone but not a credit card).
It remains to be seen whether Facebook credit spending can be meaningfully increased through alternative payment methods. Despite the globally impressive penetration rate of Facebook in Turkey, there’s also globally impressive youth unemployment rate of 17% in April 2012, down from a nightmarish 29% in February 2009. Might I remind that Facebook credits are for virtual goods only? The unemployed youth may have time enough on their hands to register 10 Facebook accounts to power-level in a Facebook game, but they might not have the funds to pay a dollar to get that done faster.
Avea’s campaign, despite the potential pitfalls, is the first of its kind in Turkey. If the other operators launch similar services, just enough number of users may join the bandwagon and buy the idea that they can spend their real money on virtual goods.