Arun Mathew , VP -Business Development at Cookies Digital, currently spearheads the commercial and strategic partnerships with Telecom Operators, DCB partners and content partners in the MENA, APAC, and African markets. Here he discusses how DCB is ready to take on eSports, mobile learning and RCS across the world
Which countries or regions do you feel represent the greatest opportunity for Telemedia services?
The greatest opportunity for DCB services, in general, is in markets which are 1. Underbanked 2. Prepaid dominant 3. Low credit card penetration and, 4. Faster adoption of “mobile-first” products and services. Given these parameters, markets in Asia and Africa and emerging markets in the Middle East are in a pole position to drive forward the growth of DCB enabled content and services.
Which content and/or applications do you see being the most likely to benefit from Telemedia billing and/or marketing technologies?
OTT has been the champion of carrier billing partnerships between Telcos and content providers for the better part of 2019 and 2020. Going into the second half of 2021 and into 2022, I see a huge potential for DCB enabled eSports game passes, hyper-local mobile gaming tournaments, mobile learning solutions, RCS, mobile identity and authentication, and financial technologies that are looking to penetrate the Card-not-present (CNP) segment of users and transactions. There are early positive use cases for these solutions to be the significant drivers of DCB growth in the future.
Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which markets?
DCB is already in a pole position in markets where market dynamics have shown micro repeat transactions, higher spending on mobile transactions vis-à-vis POS devices digital wallets being favored for redemptions and loyalty programs, and telcos being the direct beneficiary of a mobile financial ecosystem. This growth spurt will be further accentuated with 5G launches in developing markets, mobile wallet partnerships enabled by carrier billing, and a user base that is increasingly carrying out financial transactions on mobile. With advancements in Mobile identity and fraud prevention, DCB can further its penetration into the eCommerce ecosystem and emerge as the preferred payment channel for developing markets across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?
With carrier billing services becoming increasingly important for a consumer’s purchase journey, “Trust” has become a valuable asset and soon will be a “currency” for enablers looking to join the DCB bandwagon. Trust has to transcend across the carriers, content providers, and right until the purchase by a consumer. Beyond trust, tangible improvements in technology, readiness to deliver OTT experiences for a 5G ready audience, and the ability to manage complex ecosystems such as eSports would be key drivers to deliver strong growth for DCB over the next few quarters.
Reliance on traditional use cases, historic success stories around content adoption, and underestimating the pace of change of user behavior could prove to be the Achilles Heel for DCB providers.
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 will continue to be a dominant force, in the short term, for Telemedia propositions but the longevity of this channel for acquisitions would only happen if the enablers showed caution and restraint and employ technologies that safeguard the user experience. When partners and carriers deliver a DCB payment experience, the onboarding journey is an equally important aspect and affiliate marketing has yet to, collectively, provide a seamless, error-free experience for the consumers
What is Cookies Digital bringing into the market for its carrier partners and users?
Cookies Digital is championing the cause of delivering complex, sustainable, revenue-driven ecosystems powered by DCB. We have been working very closely with carriers across Europe, MENA, Africa, and Asia to build customized eSports ecosystems that bring an engaging, rewarding, and value-driven proposition for Telco carriers and their subscribers looking to be part of eSports as a vertical. Further to that, we have been delivering an end-to-end user onboarding process, customer lifecycle management, and revenue assurance for our carrier partners as part of our “Cookies Digital Promise”
Your words of wisdom: On a more personal level, what is the most inspiring piece of advice that has seen you through life in business to this day, and who gave that advice to you?
Very early in my career as a business development executive, my reporting manager had advised me to never procrastinate.
To this day, that advice has held me in good stead. As humans, we are prone to procrastination, but more often than not, at work, procrastination could have a significant effect, especially if your role requires key decision-making. So, never procrastinate, get stuff done today!
What have been the most significant effects of Covid19 on the market and have you taken any “positives” from such a challenging set of circumstances?
Some of the most significant effects of COVID 19 have been the “ability to trust” amongst the players within the DCB ecosystem and the changing consumer behavior. One of the positives, that I have personally experienced, is the relationship with the carrier partners, which has weathered the storm and we have come out stronger to deliver a better experience for a changing consumer mindset.
In the next 12 months what key technical developments or innovations do you feel will have the most positive impact on mCommerce (VAS / mobile payments/marketing)?
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has been a major driver of economic reform and transformed how consumers in India are using their mobile phones for financial transactions. With similar technologies being proposed/developed in the Middle East and Africa, as part of the mobile industry, we have to be ready to participate in such technological changes and developments.