Saturday, May 18, 2024

    EDITORIAL All change? How gaming, payments and messaging have seen some shifts this summer – with more to come

    An indication of how fast the world of telemedia changes can be seen in how the news agenda has shifted across the our Summer recess. While the headline topics are still on-point – CPaaS, RCS, 5G, gaming – the developments that have come to pass in the past six weeks mark another sea change in the market.

    Cloud gaming takes off

    Take the world of cloud gaming for example. Cloud gaming has been growing in popularity for three years, spurred on by the pandemic, and showing no signs of slowing. But who would have seen that one of the main beneficiaries of this could be Netflix?

    Cloud gaming – usually played by casual, ‘non-passionate’ gamers on mobile phones – has become something of a phenomenon of late. Research out this week reveals one third (33%) of committed gamers across seven global markets have already used a cloud gaming service, alongside 10% of casual gamers. 82% of those who have tried cloud gaming are likely to use it again and the current uptake of cloud gaming services is highest in Spain (35%) and the USA (32%), and lowest in France (16%).

    Microsoft has already made a substantial play in this market, but Netflix – which soft launched its own downloadable gaming platform two years ago (so softly, almost no one heard?) – has also announced that it too is making a bid for this market.

    This is interesting because it suddenly places Netflix, the behemoth of TV streaming, slap-bang in the middle of yet another segment of the content market ripe for international exploitation by telemedia companies. Carrier billing has already become a staple for charging for access to TV content in developing – and some developed – markets. Now there is a good chance that even more carrier billing will be deployed around cloud gaming.

    The impact of Netflix muscling in here will also create new content opportunities within the sector. The aggregator, content provider and VAS markets have, quite rightly, all leapt upon video and TV content in the past two years. Now it is likely that the next big thing in VAS in telemedia is going to be cloud gaming. With Microsoft and now Netflix making it popular, it is pretty much a given.

    A new form of fraud?

    Another shift in the market is taking place around the use of alternative payments – including in some markets carrier billing – to buy physical goods. While DCB has seen huge uptake worldwide as a trusted way to pay for content, services, gaming and more, many of these ‘new’ markets are also leveraging its ability to ‘bank the unbanked’ to sell physical goods. Today it is only just starting to find its feet, but already it is becoming a hot bed of fraud – not least in the Middle East and Africa.

    Research suggests that, while physical goods fraud sits at just $150m today, it is set to hit $1.1bn globally by 2028. Looked at one way this is testament to just how rapidly the use of alt-payments to buy physical goods is going to grow. On the downside, that is an awful lot o’ fraud.

    The problem is that, while the anti-fraud industry has blossomed over the past few years in the content and VAS market, fraudsters are moving to the new frontier of physical goods, where there are limited fraud protection tools right now.

    That said, the use of AI is already growing across fraud prevention and the anti-fraud businesses that are the backbone of protecting the telemedia sector are surely going to be all over this?

    RCS: getting the message

    The final shake up over the summer has been the news that RCS, despite being slow to take off, may yet become a force to be reckoned with in messaging. Research finds that there are already 930 million RCS users globally in 2023, rising to 1.1 billion next year.

    This is good news for those that back RCS as an alternative to SMS – or SMS 2.0 if you like – but the news isn’t really that surprising. RCS is not a game changer, it is merely an enhancement to SMS. For businesses that currently use it, it is just a slightly fancier way to deliver messages that would have gone by text (and which, for customers using iOS, still goes as text). It is growing incrementally by stealth, not because it is a particularly new way of doing things.

    This isn’t to take away from the importance of RCS. Should Apple buy in to it too, then it will become the de facto way that businesses communicate with customers as it does offer great richness. But one can’t help but wonder whether it is too late to the party? WhatsApp has made great gains in business messaging and offers much of the richness. SMS, meanwhile, does a perfectly acceptable job.

    And what about X, formerly Twitter? The rebrand is part of Elon Musk’s grand plan to create a super-app akin to WeChat in China – an app that combines messaging, commerce, social, marketing, payments and more. If this gets off the ground then potentially all other messaging channels are largely defunct.

    While its not time to write off RCS – not your investment in all other messaging channels – perhaps it is worth keeping an eye on what might yet come to pass in this messaging-commerce-payment space. This may yet become the most exciting part of telemedia in 2024 and beyond and throw all other developments seen this Summer into the shade.

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