giffgaff UK MVNO announced: is "mutual giving" a business model?

MVNOs in the US haven't had the greatest of success, with Virgin Mobile USA the most recent big-name to be gobbled up by a "proper" carrier.  However one UK company has obviously decided that the scene there is crying out for a new carrier option, and hence giffgaff has been born.  Based on O2's network, giffgaff is still playing coy with their pricing but is suggesting that users will be able to earn back up to 100-percent of their pre-pay top-ups via good deeds to other users and the MVNO themselves.

Those good deeds could involve helping out with marketing and business plan or, most likely perhaps, simply referring new customers to giffgaff.  Only one tariff will be on offer, as yet unpriced, and the MVNO won't be offering subsidized handsets but instead expect users to put the giffgaff SIM into an unlocked phone.

The full roll-out is expected to take place by Christmas.  As for the name, that apparently comes from an old Scottish term meaning "mutual giving".  While we're all for more choice for consumers, we can't help but wonder whether giffgaff will be able to carve out a niche in the competitive "rewards" space where other MVNOs have tried and failed.