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    EDITORIAL New year, new opportunities for DCB, messaging and the metaverse

    As we start a new year, there is much to look forward to across the world of telemedia. Despite economic turbulence across the world, the opportunities for micro-billed mobile content and entertainment remains strong.

    And there is much to look forward to in 2023. Straight out the gate Telemedia 8.1 Live is just a few short weeks away – running alongside Mobile World Congress – in Barcelona, where we are set to hear how DCB continues to dominate the growth of mobile services, not least in MENA.

    Evina and Telecoming’s DCB Index 2022 finds that South Africa is the leading country in the ranking, with the highest score (3.4 out of 5). All mobile operators are deploying DCB, and there is an overall increase in fraud protection compared to last year.

    In the Middle East and North Africa, Morocco and UAE steal the show, surpassing last year’s leader Bahrain. Morocco (3.3) has significantly increased DCB deployment and invested in cybersecurity measures to protect this payment technology, while in UAE (3.2) all mobile operators offer end users DCB to pay for various types of services yet major organizations still have to implement adequate protection.

    Nigeria (3.1) and DR Congo (3.0) follow close behind, differentiating themselves by opening more opportunities for DCB deployment and increasing their level of protection against fraud attempts on Direct Carrier Billing.

    Much of this has been driven by concerted efforts to stamp out fraud in DCB across the region and, as the service has become much more secure, so businesses have increased use. This trend is set to continue across the region, driven by consumers wanting an easy and seamless way to pay.

    Messaging too is going to be high on the agenda at Telemedia8.1 Live, with text marketing set to continue to boom across 2023, RCS seeing more gains and telcos increasingly embracing CPaaS strategies and more to drive MNO revenues in challenging times.

    Currently messaging specialists make up 44% of CPaaS offerings, with MNOs accounting for 18%. It is clear how messaging companies are going to benefit – but what is in it for the MNOs?

    MNOs are likely to start looking to own the CPaaS platforms. They have the in with most large organisation and, while they may see things like WhatsApp as a threat to their core SMS and even RCS offerings, they are in fact complimentary. As seen, consumers mix and match the channels they use to engage, they aren’t wedded to any particular channel at any given time. MNOs need to almost take the same approach. They need to add these services to complement what they already do and that way they get a piece of the action, rather than being excluded.

    And then there is the metaverse. Web3 is set to make more gains this year as growing numbers of consumers turn their curiosity about the virtual world into active use.

    According to a new report from the Capgemini Research Institute, 77% of consumers expect immersive experiences to impact how they interact with people, brands and services, and seven out of ten organizations say that they believe immersive experiences will be a key differentiator in their markets, particularly in relation to the customer journey. Out of the small group of metaverse-experienced consumers three-quarters say they are currently using it and will continue to do so, which indicates there is potential for businesses that can harness the power of this much-hyped immersive experience.

    Much of this will be driven by gaming – which needs a boost – but all telemedia companies should be looking at how to leverage payments on these new platforms to be ready for what lies ahead.

    While we may not all be accessing the web through immersive VR headsets any time – soon or at all – the decentralised nature of the metaverse, along with the use of cryptocurrencies, to create a more life like experience of events, shopping, gaming and more, are going to become norms across the internet. It is vital that, while discussing the latest trends in DCB, messaging and engagement and more, the industry looks at how this can be translated into a new way of accessing the web.

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