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Lazar Pasajlic: Looking DCB-driven international growth in mobility, e-learning, dating and RCS

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Lazar Pasajlic, Regional Growth Director Europe at Centili, is a fintech and payments enthusiast with more than 6 years’ international experience. Holding degrees in economics and trading, he joined the company in 2013 and embarked on a fast-paced international career which took him from South East Europe to Asia-Pacific and back, and then to Munich, Germany, where he is now based. He’s been heading some of the key monetization projects in gaming, e-learning and ride-hailing industries.

Who are you and what is your current role?

Lazar Pasajlic, Regional Growth Director Europe at Centili. I have been based in Munich, Germany for almost two years now. I run monetization projects for European mobile network operators and digital merchants. Before relocating to Munich, I lived and worked in Asia Pacific for several year, as well as in South-Eastern Europe.

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

In terms of direct carrier billing, opportunity is global, but the actual developments depend on several factors. We expect emerging markets to see biggest growth in the upcoming years – Latin America, Africa, Middle East, South East Asia. Mobile money opportunities remain largely tied to Eastern African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, where telco-operated wallets are the most widespread way of paying for almost anything there is to pay. Places like Japan, South Korea and Thailand are interesting in the context of virtual currencies.

Looking at RCS, near-term opportunity is in developed markets, where a growing number of devices is RCS-enabled, and many networks have implemented the technology. In the next couple of years, portions of marketing budgets could go to business-to-consumer RCS campaigns. This could happen as soon as the channel is adopted on a sufficiently large scale for brands and agencies to include it in their mix. Recent trial campaigns in markets such as UK and France have shown higher levels of customer engagement, with increases in purchases and orders clearly traceable to the channel.

Which content and/or applications do you see being the most likely to benefit from telemedia billing in years to come?

Those could be transportation and ride-sharing apps, online dating networks, as well as e-learning and e-publishing types of content. Many of them haven’t used MNO-powered billing much yet and have started examining it as a way of expanding their monetisation pool. Ride-sharing and taxi apps, whose mission is to facilitate mobility, are now looking into natively mobile services (such as those provided via telco), as means of orchestrating the experience. They understand that making mobility as smooth as possible for their customers involves an array of services centred around mobile phones – from user identification, location, engagement, and billing. Therefore, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) paradigm has been gaining momentum of late. The notion of travelling from place A to place B, and paying only once for that, instead of paying for each ride and vehicle in the process, is the new frontier in urban mobility. Carrier billing and other telco services are at the core of the MaaS enablement, which could create tremendous benefits for hundreds of millions of people that move around cities every day. In Europe, regulation will be important for unlocking these opportunities on a larger scale.

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

There’s huge potential in direct carrier billing, but there is still a lot of work to do in removing obstacles to a wider adoption by merchants, MNOs, and users. There are lots of experiences and best practices to share, and a level consolidation must happen – if we want DCB to achieve the kind of stability and standardization that has been achieved in card payments. Many of our MNO partners are aware of that and are adapting their approach. Some of our ecosystem partners are working towards that as well. If we look at the payments industry globally, although direct carrier billing does have a strong foothold in some areas, it is still not recognized by consumers in the same way as card payments. On the other hand, there are many outstanding implementations of carrier billing, which deserve attention for the technical excellence, user experience and commercial benefits which were created for all parties involved. I believe such implementations – with knowledge and work involved in making them happen – will be key to a wider adoption of DCB in the future.

What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?

Looking at carrier billing, legal and regulatory aspects can be slow and complex. In the EU, PSD2 interpretations can be different from country to country. Payment licences are a complicated matter, and legal understanding and treatment of the role of MNOs in the ecosystem is often chaotic. When MNOs act as payment intermediaries, difficulties can be expected to arise, and that was among growth inhibitors in the past. With physical and so-called soft physical goods, legal aspect is more complicated, which is a major blocker to the uptake of DCB as the monetization method of those goods.

I think a governing industry body that would promote best practices, standards and knowledge sharing could help drive growth in mid to long term. Credit card companies understood this years ago.

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?

Values obtained through Centili and Infobip, as well as different role models I had from the very start, remain key to the way I approach my personal and professional development. Within 7 years, I had the opportunity to live and work in different countries and experience several business cultures while working for the same company. I think that kind of a path helps you build business acumen faster. It demands constant adaptation, learning and flexibility, which are necessary for the ability to deliver great service to your clients and partners.

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