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EDITORIAL Roll on 2021 – the year of total telemedia

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Has the whiff of scandal around carrier billing and other services finally been consigned to the dustbin of history? Looks like it might have been, with more merchants than ever looking to use carrier billing and more in 2021.

2020 has been a rubbish year in many regards, but for the telemedia industry it has proved something of renaissance. The wholesale switch to digital by a locked down global population has seen the use of mobile and online content skyrocket. It has also pushed messaging, interactive marketing and ecommerce to new heights – and all of it has seen telemedia services become mainstream.

One of the chief beneficiaries has been carrier billing. As more consumers pick up their phones to buy content, subscribe to OTT services and interact with the digital economy, so many have happily paid with DCB as a quick and easy way to pay.

In fact, a study by DOCOMO in conjunction with the GSMA finds that so popular has DCB become – with, let’s be honest little to no marketing effort by MNOs – that now nearly 60% of merchants say they are assessing or planning to use it in 2021.

The research, ‘Making the case for carrier billing’, which quizzed 115 merchants worldwide, finds that merchants are embracing new forms of digital content along with the proliferation of new platforms in the market, resulting in a surge in the usage of DCB. By partnering with a DCB specialist, merchants can better manage their payment settlements at scale while providing a seamless and native user experience.

The study highlights that merchants believe there are several market opportunities for wallets or carrier billing for new offerings such as scooters, bike rentals, food delivery and parking services. The key benefits of introducing DCB services includes enhanced revenue, providing subscribers with payment flexibility, simplifying the onboarding of new merchants and a cost- effective mobile payment integration with App stores.

The report also finds that 40% of merchants experienced a positive outcome on their billing business due to the Covid-19 crisis, with 58% of merchants consider working with a Direct Carrier Billing Specialist in 2021. Half of them have launched DCB or plan to in 2021.

Of these, 62% indicated they are willing to invest in co-marketing efforts and bundles with an operator partner, depending on the campaign, while 37.5% expect merchants to invest in co-marketing efforts and bundles for all or most campaigns.

Wider mcommerce taking over

The increase in interest in DCB is just part of a much larger swing towards mobile payments driven by mobile commerce. A study from Juniper Research has found that mcommerce payments will reach $3.1 trillion in 2025, from $2.1 trillion in 2020.

The research found that the pandemic’s massive boost to digital wallet services in the offline arena with OEM Pay has been a key driver of greater mcommerce usage; accelerating the already rapid transition from offline to online services.

Consumers globally are picking up their phones to do pretty much everything – even paying in real-world shops – as retail and commerce on and offline rewires itself, ironically wirelessly.

This is going to be the biggest trend we see across 2021: the true advent of a mobile world, where mobile the nexus of messaging, content consumption, commerce and payments.

The mobile devices will be gaming console, streaming hub, booking tool, banking tool, shopping tool and wallet.

In that wallet will be ‘cards’, alternative payment tools such as Apple or Gogle Pay, PayPal and more, as well as carrier billing. Consumers will literally pick and choose what they interact with and how they pay, based on the apps they have the whim that takes them.

Beyond payments in 2021

What is really interesting is that mobile messaging is also going to be part of this. With more people communicating with each other and with businesses using OTT messaging, as well as text and other chat services, it is becoming very clear that payments built into this messaging paradigm is a natural progression.

The embracing of DCB by consumers and, as a result, merchants is going to speed up the integration of this and other payment types into marketing and customer service messaging.

This is a game changer. The birth of true conversational commerce through mobile is going to again fundamentally change marketing and consumption. Personalisation is out the window: now brands are going to look at how to converse with consumers and make it as easy as possible within that conversation for them to buy things.

Joining this all together makes for a really new way of monetisation of, well, everything and once again pushes telemedia services even further forward into mainstream in 2021 and beyond.

>>> Did you know we print Telemedia Magazine every quarter.  Free to qualified readers.  Essential reading for any buisness that wants to engage users, monetise content and drive sales of VAS and premium applications.  Download the current Issue.
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