New Websites

S'pore Startup GNum Gets S$7Million To Makes Phone Numbers Obsolete

What is easier to remember, a series of 8 numbers, or a website address? It’s probably a question you’ve never thought of, but now you needn’t have to. A Singapore startup, GNum, has made it possible to call someone by linking a web address to a phone number.

Image Credit: Gnum
Image Credit: Gnum

GNum, a Singapore tech Startup, is looking to “revolutionise global communications” by developing the world’s first call handle, where people can receive calls from both Smart and “Dumb” phones.

Many people seem to think that GNum would be able to do so, as the startup has been able to secure S$7.0 million in seed funding from private equity firm Tembusu Partners, which is one of the largest seed investments in a Singapore tech startup.

How GNum Works

GNum screen

The process, once understood, is simple. As with any service, you go to the website and sign up. You then enter your mobile number, which will be verified via OTP, and connected to the GNum account and address you create.

With your new GNum account, anyone who would want to contact you would be able to do so by keying in your GNum address into their web-browser. The interesting bit is that by calling a GNum account, you don’t end up in an application on a phone or desktop – the call goes straight to their phone service, and registers as a phone call from its own number. It essentially just acts like a phone number, except it is much easier to remember, and can be used through a web browser or a smartphone.

This also means that you don’t have to own the smartest phone to use it. You could still be using the Nokia 3310 and still be contactable through your very own URL.

Currently, the call is also free if it terminates in Singapore.

GNum Call screen

What Calls Actually Mean In The 21st Century

We’ve come a long way from smoke signals and telegrams. After centuries of various forms of communications, from sending a messenger on a horse to ride miles, to pigeon mail, the advancement of technology that allows voices to travel great distances has always been considered a great step for communication. But even that form of communication has been continuously challenged. Even the containers that made it possible has evolved from clunky boxes nailed into our houses into swanky new multi-purpose devices that are now judged by the resolution of their photographs and the speed at which they load the latest cat video.

Today, voice calls are still necessary in personal communication and in the corporate world, and many companies are still attempting to truly revolutionize the ability to make voice calls. The VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) industry has emerged and is, according to an article by Forbes, currently worth USD$15 billion.

However, the streams of communication, through the traditional telephone calls and VoIP, still largely exist on separate planes. Large commercial players like Skype and Viber still function via a separate app on phones or desktops, keeping communication tools (a phone number versus a Skype ID) separate entities.

GNum 2

There is no choosing one over the other in the near future. While people calling VoIP the future of communication, with its cost-saving potential and wide geographical reach, it shares the same weakness of any web-based tool – web vulnerability. In fact, CSO has recently reported that the Shellshock Bash bug that is terrifying government bodies everywhere was found in a typical VoIP system.

With GNum, there is a large potential for a step towards merging these streams to occur. Through GNum, you can directly contact a person through their mobile service without having to deal with what could be seen as an backdated form of identification. A series of random numbers that doesn’t provide any self-expression or marketing potential? How archaic!

With GNum’s new funding, they’re looking to rollout their service to the rest of Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia. They are also in talks with several telcos for future possibilities, which I personally hope will mean some real innovation in telephony.

“GNum has been actively engaging several Asian telco companies on partnership opportunities that will involve revenue sharing,” says Alexandre Yokoyama, GNum’s CEO to TechInAsia. “We seek to work with incumbent major telcos even as the operating environment is being rapidly redefined.”

singapore startup scene