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Joanna Cox, General Manager, aimm, talks about the real potential of carrier billing and RCS – and where Facebook Libra fits in

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Aimm (the Association for Interactive Media and Micropayments) general manager,Joanna Cox, has 15 years of experience working in premium rate services and a broad range of other technologies that have emerged over that time. Ten of those years were spent leading commercial teams within agencies and the other five have been spent controlling commercial and interactive services teams at Channel 5.  Cox brings a solid understanding of the need for businesses to continually adapt to the changing ways in which consumers wish to interact with their chosen brands, content or services. This moveable feast sits alongside an ever-present commitment to run these interactions within what can seem like a fairly restrictive regulatory arena. Cox says: “I am keen to support our membership in constructing an environment where commercial development can thrive across the board”.

Who are you and what is your current role?

I’m Joanna Cox, General Manager at the Association for Interactive Media and Micropayments (aimm). For those of you who don’t know us, aimm seeks to bring together members to share and develop best practice to facilitate growth, to educate members through knowledge sharing and training,  and to interface with regulators to ensure our members’ operational environment is robust – all with the goal of creating the conditions for growth in micropayments.

I joined aimm as General Manager last year with a wide remit, part of which is to ensure that members are getting maximum value from being part of our organisation, to find out in which areas aimm can assist their businesses, and explore with them the potential for collaboration with other members. We want our members to lead the way in bringing high quality mobile payment services to market.

Which countries or regions do you feel represent the greatest opportunity for telemedia services?

Whilst there are obvious opportunities in areas of the world where population numbers of unbanked consumers are high, aimm is UK-based and there are huge prospects right here. As a method of payment, direct carrier billing offers consumers an accessible, safe and easy to use way to make purchases. PSD2 has opened doors to new players, and with 5G on our doorstep there are opportunities waiting to be had in this space, as speeds get faster and content becomes richer – content which can be paid for with your phone.

Which content and/or applications do you see being the most likely to benefit from telemedia billing and/or marketing technologies?

Those with the right content (i.e. quality, relevant, reasonably priced) will provide the best opportunity to make money out of carrier billing. The retailing of higher priced physical goods can be taken advantage of by those wanting to remove the payment barrier on this by obtaining an e-money license.

Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which markets?

In the UK we’re already making steps in that direction. There’s a bigger presence in app stores now, major brands are becoming involved and broadcast engagement continues to prove hugely popular with its audiences. Charities are utilising phone payments more than ever and those that donate are showing that they love doing so via their phone. Subscription services also provide an opportunity as almost anything can be purchased using that model now.

Rich Communication Services (RCS) is of course on the horizon but requires consumer adoption. aimm is running an event in September titled “What Impact can RCS have on Carrier Billing?” where we’ll be exploring what the vision is across the value chain, why we should be considering RCS for our businesses and the benefits of RCS co-existing with carrier billing.

What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?

I think there are a range of drivers and inhibitors.

Drivers

  • Level of smart phone saturation in the UK
  • Appetite of audiences to consume content and purchase services (and physical goods) using their phone.
  • Ease of use as short term credit mechanic and for those without banking.

Inhibitors

  • Lack of brand
  • Lack of consumer education, trust and confidence
  • Over regulation
  • Complex nature of value chain
  • Content that’s readily available at no charge

Do you see affiliate marketing being a primary, trusted channel for telemedia propositions or do you think alternative routes to market will become more popular?

Affiliate Marketing shouldn’t necessarily be a primary channel – this will always depend on the brand and reach required – however affiliate marketing should, as in any marketing, be considered as an important contributor to the market.

In the UK, affiliate marketing has caused the traditional telemedia industry some pain in recent years, as the quality of the affiliate marketing channels has been so varied. More recently there has been a huge reduction in activity following regulation brought in to combat the issues. We’ve seen problems in compliant implementation of affiliate marketing historically, so the industry will be looking for looking for partners offering safety and security as well as convenience.

What are they likely to be?  

Good brands and services will be bought by consumers. Digital marketing generally considers all routes to market (social, discovery etc etc) and the key to success for telemedia is services provided which offer consumers quality products which can be bought in a frictionless and convenient way.

How likely is it that crypto currencies will become popular telemedia/mobile payment mechanisms for premium content, services and applications?

With Facebook launching digital currency next year, it’s inevitable that this will become more popular, particularly for those who are currently financially excluded. This sort of exposure creates consumer education around digital currencies and makes it more mainstream, which in turn can be taken advantage of by those involved in other areas of digital content/applications.

Your words of wisdom: On a more personal level, what is the most inspiring piece of advice that has seen you through a life in business to this day and who gave that advice to you?

You can’t control what people think of you or say about you, you can only control how you choose to react to it. Work hard, be happy – as reactions go, success works well.

No idea where/when I first heard that but I remind myself of it on an almost daily basis.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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