Emmanuel G Piard is the CoFounder and CTO at Reloadly, a technology company that builds airtime APIs for developers and their brands. Businesses of every size in a wide variety of industries use our software to enable the transfer of digital mobile payments, digital goods and mobile top-ups. Here he talks about the company’s plans and how alternative payments – especially DCB – are taking shape across sub-Saharan Africa
Which countries or regions do you feel represent the greatest opportunity for telemedia services?
The last three to four years have seen significant changes as businesses adapt their business models and strategies to meet the demands of a more and more digital economy. Because of low credit/debit cards usage and penetrations, aging or simply non-existent financial infrastructure, sub-Saharan Africa is a key region where mobile billing payments solution and value added services will make a great impact. Africa as a whole is an emerging market with strong audiences that are prime and ready for great content.
Which content and/or applications do you see being the most likely to benefit from telemedia billing and/or marketing technologies?
Preference for alternative payment methods is on the rise especially due to Covid-19. Several reports on the sub-Saharan region point to a 12.1% increase in direct carrier billing or mobile money usage, 33% increase in circulation value and a 28.5% increase in monthly transaction value compared to the previous year.
Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which markets?
70% of ecommerce transactions in emerging markets and 95% in sub-Saharan Africa, which include mobile money markets, are cash-on-delivery, which is inefficient, expensive and time consuming for both the merchant and buyers. By 2025, it is expected that 65% of African households will be in the discretionary spending income bracket, such as an increase in non-essential purchases. Therefore, simplifying the payment flow with direct carrier billing as an option will build trust, resulting in a boost in ecommerce transactions, thus furthering its adoption.
What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?
Standardisation, cooperation and discussion between MNOs, payment gateways and other parties in the value chain will be essential to align shared objectives. Payment gateways will need to accommodate alternative payment methods in order to server diverse markets
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 is a proven, successful method and has a role to play. It can definitely make a huge impact when leveraged properly. However, I suspect that the “top dogs” such as Facebook, Google and the likes, will continue to dominate into the foreseeable future.
What are they likely to be?
Affiliate marketing, although powerful, lacks standardization and traffic alone is not enough. The key is to get qualified traffic. Which means that the visitor is targeted and that there’s a strong message & market match between the offer and the visitor. Furthermore, producing not just any but great content becomes a big problem as well, because this requires time, effort and skills.
How likely is it that crypto currencies will become popular telemedia/mobile payment mechanisms for premium content, services and applications?
Although crypto currencies are making a lot of noise nowadays, I don’t see them becoming popular payment mechanisms for premium contents and services anytime soon. Crypto does work for many use cases, it is still small compared to the real latest trends, payment apps and portals seem to be where things are heading for now.
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?
Always aim or manage to finish/deliver whatever you started no matter the obstacles, curve balls thrown at you or how long it takes. Once delivered or completed, what becomes important or takes center stage is the fact that the “thing” in question is done/completed/exists. However long it took, slowly fades away and is soon forgotten for better or worse. This is something I’ve learned and adopted through various life experiences.
What have been the most significant affects of Covid19 on the market and have you taken any “positives” from such a challenging set of circumstances?
East Africa is a mature mobile money market with large penetration and user adoption. Covid-19 has increased mobile money transactions within the region. There has been a decline in the number of withdrawals which indicates that money is spent within the ecosystem, circulating value is up by 24.5% from the previous year.
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)?
Preference for alternative payment methods such as mobile money is on the rise, especially due to the COVID, GSMA reports that in the sub-Saharan region, there has been an increase of 12.1% mobile money users, a 33% increase in circulation value, and a 28.5% increase in monthly transaction value compared to the previous year
- E-commerce is on the rise, and new Fintechs within the African continent are aiming to make a mark for themselves. Furthermore, mobile technology is fuelling the e-commerce growth in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Credit cards have a high fee associated with it, for both merchant and consumer, and an incredibly low penetration, even in a more mature market such as South Africa
- Payment gateway’s are accommodating alternative payment methods, such as mobile money, e-wallet payments and local payment methods to serve the diverse market