According to their marketing materials, Dent Wireless aims to turn USD 4.8 billion per month worth of unused mobile data into a new economy. It aims to do this by creating a marketplace for the exchange of mobile data, in the process breaking down the silos represented by incumbent telcom operators.
How it works
The DENT token is the currency used in the marketplace. On the DENT Exchange, buyers (who are located in supported countries only) browse the mobile data (and voice minutes) marketplace, paying for attractive offers with DENT. Note that for these retail consumers, DENT can only be transferred into the app. Once you’ve transferred DENT into the app, it must be used to buy a package.
On the supply side, there appears to be two main parties. One is retail mobile data consumers who have leftover/unused data on their monthly plans. These consumers can presumably offer that data for sale on the DENT marketplace, receiving DENT for any sales made. It’s unclear if DENT can be transferred out of the marketplace for such retail consumers. Also note that only cellular plans which have been approved and onboarded to the DENT marketplace are available for trading in this manner.
This brings us to the other supplier in the marketplace, the telcos themselves. In addition to potentially allowing their customers to trade unused mobile data within the DENT marketplace, telcom companies can offer their mobile packages for sale on the marketplace. The transaction is again facilitated by DENT with, presumably for telcos, a seamless cashing out to local fiat in the background.
The main challenge for Dent Wireless is getting telcom operators onboard. For the system to work, telcos must adopt Dent’s technology to enable trading within their networks and – more radically – between rival networks.
To DENT’s credit, they’ve done very well so far onboarding Telcom operators. They claim to have 161 mobile operators in 60 countries using their network, with 15.8 million users. Dent’s twitter feed features a fairly constant barrage of selfies in front of telco operator buildings, presumably after having pitched their concept.
The other challenge, of course, is whether or not it actually makes sense to buy data through the DENT network. For it to make sense, the data needs to be significantly cheaper than traditional methods of buying. Afterall, there’s significant friction stopping people from using this system: you actually have to buy your package using DENT and, as mentioned, once you’ve transferred DENT to the exchange, you can’t take it out.
According to a January 2019 tweet from Dent Wireless, Indonesia has the highest DENT token usage, with over 100 million DENT (approx. USD 125,000) in “token usage on mobile phones in 1 day!”:
However, when this writer – who is based in Indonesia – attempted to access the DENT exchange on desktop, I was greeted with the dreaded “DENT Exchange Is Not Available in Your Country” firewall.
Downloading the mobile app, I discovered that it is actually be possible to purchase mobile plans using DENT. However, crucially, those plans were vastly more expensive that if purchased through traditional means (about 10 times the price).
Top-ups as remittance?
According to DENT’s website:
Over 70% of the world’s mobile phone users are using prepaid SIM cards, requiring users to regularly “top-up” credits to be able to use data, voice and SMS. The key use case for top-ups is cross-border remittance of airtime, which is a huge business opportunity for DENT.
Perhaps the large volume of DENT being used in Indonesia comes from this remittance use-case.
Since its initial “ICO bubble pump,” the value of DENT token has retraced completely then remained flat. The total supply of DENT is 100 billion tokens but only 8.7 billion were sold in the ICO, with the rest being distributed to the team or held in reserve. This means that DENT token has very centralized ownership.
DENT’s Future Prospects
If mobile packages are comparatively cheaper to purchase from the DENT exchange than through traditional channels, there’s a chance that DENT can attract real volume and the token can experience price appreciation.
The Dent Wireless team, unlike perhaps most in the post-ICO era, have reached many of the targets from their 2017-2018 roadmap. These include successfully launching DENT Exchange, adding many telco operators, and reaching a not insignificant number of users.
Considering their success so far, there’s a chance the team will continue to meet its targets, which can be found in their newly published roadmap. Doing so would certainly lead to more usage of DENT.
For investors, however, holding DENT long-term is risky due to the huge outstanding supply of DENT and the centralization of the tokens.
For speculators, however, DENT may present an opportunity for short-term gains. The two reasons are:
1. The project appears to be gaining adoption and communicates its achievements well. Announcements from the team may coincide with a swing into altcoins, resulting in a significant short-term upside price movement.
2. DENT token can’t go much lower and has not pumped even once since the ICO bubble. Here the argument is that DENT is due for a pump, and buying it while it’s cheap can reward speculators.