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MEET THE PEOPLE Igor Kholin, Golden Goose 

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Golden Goose is a worldwide CPA-platform designed to monetise traffic from mVAS market participants from around the world.  It has been specialising in mobile content offers for more than 16 years and has extensive experience on both sides of the mVAS market: since 2005, we have been developing and supporting our own mVAS services on various topics in Russia and the CIS countries.

Since 2016 Golden Goose has become a global mobile CPA network and official authorised agents for promoting the entertainment services of mobile telecom operators in more than 40 countries around the world.

Recently, Golden Goose became a member of the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) in South Africa.

Here, its Co-Founder, Igor Kholin,  discusses how the digitistation of the world during the pandemic is a boon for the VAS market and how it propels DCB into every facet of online life.

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

Of course, for us, telemedia services are primarily services for the mVAS segment. Recently have become members of the WASPA association in South Africa, and now are actively developing and connecting countries from this region.

The potential of this region is huge. The total population has long exceeded 1 billion people. There is no wired Internet at all in most African countries, and this entire billion uses wireless channels from telecom operators to access the Internet. Over the past 10 years, Africa has taken the second position in the world after Asia in terms of economic growth, which averaged 4.9%. So the potential for the development of telematics services in this region is huge.

In addition to the African region, the VAS market is actively growing in LATAM. Almost every month, new advertisers from this region appear in our network.

Asia-Pacific, however, has slowed. 5G will be implemented faster there than in other regions, then users with fast Internet will have more opportunities, and therefore there will be more needs for telematics services in general and mVAS services in particular.

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

First of all, these are OTT services, Netflix and similar platforms grew rapidly during the lockdown, which means that in order to maintain the growth rate, they will inevitably expand their geography, and therefore the range of technologies for providing financial services, including DCB.

The almost total global expansion of mobile communications allows us to consider telemedia billing as the most accessible and mass financial technology, and this is a very significant factor for using DCB as the main financial technology for OTT services in regions where bank acquiring is still insufficiently developed. This also applies to music streaming platforms and the leaders of this segment, such as Spotify and Apple Music.

In addition, the gaming industry continues to be one of the key beneficiaries of DCB technology. This can be explained by the fact that the smartphone has become a key gaming terminal, and DCB is most deeply integrated with it, which makes it the preferred method for carrying out gaming microtransactions.

It is also important to mention that the growing popularity of wearable electronic devices, and, as a result, health and fitness services, and the simplicity and accessibility of DCB give it almost unlimited opportunities for growth.

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

Here it is important to mention that carrier billing is mainly used for small payments, payment for subscription services, or making financial microtransactions. This imposes certain restrictions on the use of DCB as a mainstream payment technology, but at the same time, its wide integration and ease of use give good chances for its growth in a number of markets.

It is obvious that DCВ can become mainstream in entertainment digital services, from OTT to music streaming, where in most cases we are talking about micropayments.

However, there are serious obstacles to this: first, is the uncompetitive financial policy of the operators themselves. These payment commissions significantly exceed the similar rates of Visa, Mastercard and other payment systems.

Secondly, the spread of alternative payment methods like Google Pay or Apple Pay, which are deeply integrated into mobile devices and allow users to make both contactless payments offline and payments in one click on websites and in applications. Such systems are serious competitors for DCB technology, and the growth of their use online is a significant challenge for telemedia billing.

In addition, DCB can take an important place in the ecosystem of digital services which can be used by the state or city services in order to interact with the population. Such examples already exist in Sweden, where DCB is used as a mainstream technology for paying for parking.

What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?

In a global sense, the main driver is the digitalisation of all services, and DCB is used as one of the available technologies for monetisation. Undoubtedly, it is unlikely that DCB will become mainstream, but the technology will inevitably receive its benefits from the global growth of digital services.

Nevertheless, if we look a little into the future, we can assume that the Pay-as-you-Go subscription model, which is already popular today, will go beyond digital services and become mainstream.

There are already many examples of Pay-as-you-Go offline, such as Michelin, Volvo, Gillette, and many other brands are beginning to experiment with this format. Therefore, DCB, as one of the most popular technologies, will be very much in demand within the framework of such a business model.

In addition, do not forget about the B2B segment, which will also actively use subscription services for its development and this could also become an important driver of DCB growth.

As I said earlier, one of the key constraining factors is the policy of regulating the DCB market by telecom operators. This also applies to the financial separation of market participants, as well as high barriers to the use of such technology by new services.

Moreover, the low activity in the promotion of DCB technology by operators, in addition to the problems mentioned above, is greatly reducing the potential for the distribution and popularization of Direct Carrier Billing.

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?

If we look back, we can see that until recently, telematics SMS with ringtones and Java games were actively promoted on almost all types of marketing channels, including traditional media such as TV and radio.

However, over time, affiliate marketing has become the main channel of promotion, not only because of its efficiency and ease of measuring key indicators by advertisers, but also because of competition with other channels for delivering content to mobile devices.

First, we are talking about the Google Play and App Store marketplaces, because they are the reason why the popularity of telemedia services has decreased, and wide-ranging marketing channels have become unprofitable.

What are they likely to be? 

In the foreseeable future, some serious alternatives to the affiliate marketing channel are unlikely to appear. Rather, this type of promotion of telematics services itself will evolve. One of the ways of such evolution, we see the emergence of an industry-wide international marketplace focused on the mVAS market. The key advantage of such a marketplace will be its global reach, which allows you to get traffic here and now to any content offer in the world. For several years now, we have been developing such a marketplace based on our CPA platform.

Our marketplace is called DCB HUB and its main task is to combine the efforts and expertise of advertisers and mVAS market advertising platforms from all over the world into a single ecosystem and thereby achieve a synergistic effect that increases the overall efficiency and profitability of mVAS products or services.

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

I assume that everything depends on the popularity of cryptocurrency. If the recession is followed by an upswing, this will affect the credit card system rather than the DCB. In fact, what difference does it make in how to pay? Perhaps cryptocurrency can serve as a catalyst for changing habits in this market, but in general, I am personally quite sceptical about the prospects of cryptocurrency in its current state.

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?

For me personally, the turning point in business development was the first introduction to the book “Managing Corporate Lifecycles”, and then a personal meeting with its author, Ichak Adizes. I am a big fan of the methodology and books of Ichak Adizes, so it is quite difficult to choose any particular advice, but still the idea that change and crises that are happening to your business are for the best and this is the time when your business has new opportunities for growth, transformation, and maybe even the right moment to change the business model. Therefore, the key task of a manager is to learn how to manage these changes!

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?

Despite all the negative impact of Covid19 on the global economy, the pandemic has become a catalyst for the growth of digital services in the world. As time has shown, the infrastructure and the level of current digital services have allowed us to make a new qualitative leap, and after the pandemic, we will live in a completely different world.

If we talk about the mVAS market in general, it is necessary to emphasize the changes in consumers’ habits. Those who were previously afraid to use DCB appreciated its convenience, and for many people, mobile commerce has become much more familiar than it was before Covid19. This provides new opportunities for the development of the mVAS market and all its players.

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)?

Today, many people are talking about an Application Programming Interface (API), which has already changed the use of smartphones for payments in India. This spring, it attracted investors from the Middle East and North Africa. So something will definitely change there.

On a global scale, I would mention 5G as well. Yes, this is not something new, but at the last MWC Barcelona, a lot of attention was paid to this for a reason. I believe that the spread of 5G opens up new opportunities for DCB. Especially in the areas of cloud games and television, as well as, the Internet of Things in the future.

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