Thais Hunting For 'Lucky' Mobile Phone Numbers

(4 October) The price for phone numbers starting with "09" are increasingly expensive, as many Thais believe the number would provide them with divine fortunes in lives.

Vast majority of the mobile phone numbers in Thailand start with 08, but the 09 series are also starting to appear in the market.

The number is associated with good luck by the Thais as 9 (gow) sounds like "step", so any serial number starting with 9 is equivalent to "taking a step forward"(gow nha). Such obsession with number 9 is found in vehicle license plates, banknotes, and other objects.

The numerology also helps reinforce the semi-god status of His Majesty the King – the 9th monarch of Chakri Dynasty – in the perception of many Thais.

Although the 09 mobile phone number series emerged several years ago, it has recently become popular due to many celebrities who express their belief in the "good luck" phone numbers to the press, Prachachart has reported.Customers who already have other numbers are buying new simcards in order to enjoy the benefit of the divine number. The promotion of the superstitious belief via social media by the celebrities also helps raise the price of the good-luck-numbers simcard.

While the general starting price is around 1,000 baht, some specific numbers can raise up to 100,000 baht, depending on the interpretation of the serial numbers.

It should be noted that these 09x-xxx-xxxxx numbers are provided by "Truemove-H" as part of its product campaign To-Yok-Guan ("Chatty Gang"), which allows the users to acquire the number by exchanging discount "stamps" issued by 7-11 convenience stores for a simcard.

The trend had caused many simcard retailers to search for particular numbers. Some had gone as far as phoning the number owners and offering to buy the simcards.

However, in near future Truemove-H will no longer enjoy the monopoly of mystical numbers, as a rival company i-Mobile recently announced plan to sell them under its campaign "Lucky Numbers With Positive Force For Your Life"

i-Mobile, with the collaboration of Mr. Karin ?Man? Satayu, an actor who also offers horoscope services, will provide its users a simcard with numbers "certified" as "lucky" by horoscope experts at the price of 199 THB. But it remains to be seen whether those numbers would be as highly sought-after as the 09 series.

Another source told Prachachart that there are approximately 20 major dealers capable of selling the 09 lucky numbers at expensive rates, due to the fact that the business needs large amount of money to cover its turnover rate. Generally, the dealer must spend at least 100,000 THB to buy a lucky simcard, before reselling it at a higher rate.

"It works like the amulet market", said the source.

Prachachart reports that by now, many numbers starting with 095-4xx-xxxx are already in the hands of these major dealers. Statistically, lucky numbers appear at the ratio of only 20 per 10,000 numbers.

Nevertheless, there is still a chance for other 500 minor dealers to compete with the major ones, as National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is expected to release another set of 099-xxx-xxxx numbers in the near future, which is bound to fuel the dynamics of the market yet again.

Mr. Korkit Danchaiwichit, Deputy Secretary of the NBTC, said that organisation is trying to manage the numbers to be sold in orders to prevent the waste of inactive numbers, namely the numbers considered undesirable by superstitious customers, which could lead to the dramatic change to 11-digits system.

The decision could mean that network providers will no longer be allowed to choose the numbers, and hence took advantage of the perceived lucky charms.

NBTC additionally requires network providers to return 2G numbers to be reused as 3G-capable numbers. Users of 2G simcards are aslo allowed to transfer to 3G network under the protection of Mobile Number Portability Act.