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EDITORIAL Telemedia players and carriers join forces, while payments get a voice

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2019 has barely started, but already there are shifts within the very fundaments of telemedia. As this week’s news shows major telcos are starting to team up to an even greater extent with telemedia players, as both seek to maximise how they can efficiently engage and monetise consumers.

Telserv, a global leader in telecoms services, has formed a new global bilateral agreement with Telefónica International Wholesale Services (TIWS) to open up new markets for both companies and to optimise revenues.

Telserv, which is a specialist in Local Access Numbers (DID and Two Way Voice), International Toll Free Services (ITFS), mobile and other international number solutions has much to offer Telefonica.

However, what is interesting is that incumbents such as Telefonica are increasingly having to look to the more agile telemedia players to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving and increasingly digitally transforming customer base – both consumer and B2B.

This particular deal opens up Telserv’s Global Voice Network (GVN) to Telefonica and is likely to deliver a range of services and billing opportunities to the telco.

Similarly, leading UK mobile payment provider, PM Connect, has secured a sizeable rolling contract with Belgium’s largest mobile carrier Proximus.

The partnership with Proximus, who hold an approximate 40% share of the Belgian mobile market, will allow PM Connect to bring premium content from its global brand partners to Belgian audiences for the first time.

The move here shows how telemedia – in this instance the power of carrier billing – is really in high demand in the mainstream telecoms industry.

For both Telserv and PM Connect have the tools that connect to the people and can offer the agile kind of services that today’s digital consumers demand.

For Proxima, like Telefonica, the technology from the telemedia sector makes it easier and more seamless for carriers to offer content and services – and add value to those services – because they have finely honed solutions that work.

Having covered this sector for more than 20 years, it feels to me as if suddenly all the innovations and developments that were perhaps before their time in the 1990s and 2000s, are finely just what is needed. To paraphrase the A-Team: I love it when a plan comes together.

As part of the many years of coverage I have given to the industry I have seen many trends and technologies come (and some go). I have been privy to the inception of “the next big thing” (NBT) more times than I care to mention. Some have stayed with us, many haven’t.

2019’s NBT – well January’s, at least – is sound. Many people received smart home assistants and smart speakers (Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod et al). These devices are ushering in an era of talking to the internet – and paying by voice.

Ingenico Group, a global leader in seamless payments, has launched an innovative payment-enabled chatbot, which uses natural language processing (NLP) from IBM Watson to create a smooth customer experience – making it easier for people to pay for things using voice services such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

The chatbot, created in collaboration with JoinedApp, incorporates Ingenico’s secure payment API to enhance a business’s messaging app user experience. It enables customers to purchase products and services safely and securely within a messaging app’s chat function, bringing an end-to-end customer experience to the chat platform.

By enabling payments within the messaging app environment, merchants can boost conversion by reducing the steps that consumers have to take in order to complete their purchase.

And that isn’t the only sound innovation this month. In the US, Chirp, a pioneer in data-over-sound technology is working with OurBus, a New York-based tech company specialising in intercity and crowdsourced bus routes, to improve its ticket authentication process and deliver a seamless customer experience – using inaudible sound.

Chirp sends and receives data via sound, using nothing but a device’s existing speaker and microphone. Information is converted to an audio signal, received by any device within hearing range, and then converted back to the original data.

The partnership will see Chirp integrate its data-over-sound technology into OurBus’ iOS and Android apps and e-tickets emailed to the users, to fully automate the ticket authentication process and allow passengers to board more quickly.

We aren’t even a month into 2019 and already things are moving along nicely – I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year for telemedia.

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