Muhammed I Fareed, Carrier & Commercial Director at messagecloud works closely with new and existing VAS and Enterprise clients to offer them the best solutions for mobile payments and advising and educating service providers and telcos on eSports . Here he talks about there rising role of esports in gaming, how carrier billing and SMS have a role to play and how telemedia has some massive opportunities ahead
What does your company do?
MessageCloud. A multi-award-winning mobile messaging provider. Its cloud-based SMS and messaging products enable companies to set up and manage one-way and two-way communications effortlessly. It also offers products to analyse phone numbers, verify users and accept payments by mobile.
Clipfeed. Provides world class gaming and esports entertainment to millions of users.
What sectors does your business operate in?
- Value added services
Which countries or regions do you feel represent the greatest opportunity for your telemedia services in 2022?
Europe remains a great opportunity. The content sector is undergoing significant transformation driven by shifting consumer behaviour, new players, changing content production and distribution models and the need for greater value to the consumer.
As consumers benefit from an unprecedented level of content, an increasing number of organisations are entering the mobile content space or strengthening their existing content offerings. And offering this content not only on mobile but making mobile payments their preferred mode for billing.
All this has the potential to provide an uplift to mobile revenue, particularly in developed markets like Europe.
- Connectivity (Technology Mix: 5G / 4G / 3G)
- Higher Post-Paid v Pre-Paid Percentages
- Subscriber Penetration
- Currency Stability
- Time To Market
- Availability of Traffic
- Payout Terms
- Churn Rates
- Billing Success Rates
- Easier integrations
- Europe has the second highest percentage of 5G within the Technology Mix (Connectivity).
- Europe has the second highest percentage of Subscriber Penetration.
- Europe has the second highest Smartphone Adoption.
- The above is projected to still be the case in 2025 and beyond.
The European enterprise MVAS market is more evolved, combining technological innovation with demand forces that continue to facilitate the further expansion of services. Enterprises in this region continue to prioritize MVAS.
North America opening in recent months and the huge demand amongst VAS providers for these markets. This is also a region worth entering.
To what extent has the pandemic affected your customer’s behaviour and have you been able to explore new opportunities as a result?
Put quite simply, people spent more time on their phones and other devices. Research shows that Media consumption increased across all in-home channels. In later stages of the pandemic, web browsing increases by 70%, followed by (traditional) TV viewing increasing by 63% and social media engagement increasing by 61% over normal usage rates. Video streaming and gaming increased by 53%. Digital consumption rose by over 60%.
All this meant that content was leading the way in terms of what users consumed during the pandemic.
With the COVID-19 outbreak came uncertainty, isolation, and anxiety. As the world scrambled to cope and understand, many turned to video games as a source of comfort. Over 662 million people watched live game content during 2020, according to Newzoo’s Global Esports and Live Streaming Market Report. This represents an 11% jump from 2019.
Esports events that drew massive crowds had to move online and offer the same entertainment value, if not more, than in-person events. Games innovation suddenly pivoted from developing future technology to utilising emerging products and services that could broadcast esports tournaments to the world, and fast.
The pandemic has allowed the esports industry to shine not only in terms of viewership but opportunities for industries that struggled in lockdown.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
We were well placed to and set up for remote work. But the lack of human contact I believe did have an impact but as proven throughout history people are resilient and adaptable
In terms of overall business, we could not have the usual meetings with clients and operators but Skype / Zoom and the like helped to manage through this.
Which content and/or applications do you see being the most likely to benefit from telemedia billing technologies?
Esports – Gaming Challenges and Tournaments. The Telecom industry is at a crossroads – Even though the market for potential customers is still growing, operators are seeing shrinking margins and stagnating revenue growth.
Technology players and streaming services have disrupted the market by offering software that cuts into traditional telco revenue streams. Although telecoms built the expensive and complex infrastructure that enables streaming, it’s the technology companies that are leaver ageing and monetizing the network.
Esports is on thriving segment of the $139 Billions gaming industry that can provide Telcos a much-needed growth area to better monetize their infrastructure.
Video Streaming – The global video streaming market size was valued at USD 59.14 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.3% from 2022 to 2030. Innovations such as blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are used to improve video quality.
Cyber Security/Anti-Fraud – The global fraud detection and prevention (FDP) market size is projected to grow from USD 24.8 billion in 2021 to USD 65.8 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 21.5% during the forecast period. The major factors that are expected to drive the growth of the FDP market include the Adoption of digitalization and IoT increased the adoption rate of fraud detection and prevention system and increase in revenue loss due to fraud. Various opportunities in FDP market are Increase in use of AI and ML
Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which markets?
I think DCB has been mainstream for quite a while now across many regions and Europe in my opinion will continue to be a mature and a more stable region. MENA and LATAM now I think are evolving and having another spurt of growth and North America opening of late will also be one to watch,
How do you balance payment flows, operator relationships and customer satisfaction?
The holy grail when it comes to our sector. It’s a hard juggling act. But I believe this comes down to the quality of the content, (as cliché as it may sound).
For too long our industry has had the same content packaged in various ways and presented as something new or different. And Operators especially in Europe are no longer accepting this and are clear in their rejections of services. They want high quality, dynamic, relevant, engaging, high retention, good value content. Content that offers value week upon week. Getting this right always has and always will lead to good relationships across all parts of the value chain and ultimately to customer satisfaction.
What are the key drivers and inhibitors of growth?
Operator payouts have not changed much in recent years and if anything, have reduced, but the overall cost of business in our sector has increased.
To fully utilise DCB and have it at the forefront of payment methods for premium content, payouts and flows need to be the best possible.
Cyber Security / Fraud has always been a major issue. But there are more and more solutions on offer that provider greater protection at all levels.
Is SMS future proof?
It is a resounding yes from me on this one. Quite simply SMS Marketing is far more effective than other means of communication.
Since the rise of smartphones, the humble SMS has been frequently overlooked by advertisers and business owners alike. This is understandable given the number of alternative communications means on offer, but there is an added weight to SMS, and if used correctly it can be a hugely effective and powerful asset.
Regardless of internet connectivity or the type of phone, anyone with an SMS enabled mobile phone can receive an SMS. That means practically anyone with a mobile device can be marketed to.
Some important stats…
- More than 5 billion people worldwide now use a mobile phone.
- Text Messages achieve an overall open rate of over 98%.
- 95% of SMS Messages are opened within 4 minutes.
- Globally where connectivity is still not steady SMS is still the most reliable mode to reach consumers.
Which specific VAS verticals are you expecting to have a great year and why?
Esports – A great source of entertainment. Arguably the most obvious reason why eSports is so popular nowadays is the fact that it’s extremely entertaining for everyone involved. No matter if you’re just a spectator or an active participant, chances are you won’t experience a dull moment. Operators globally are really getting behind this vertical.
Live Video Streaming / Video Streaming – variations and options are becoming more and more. Consumers are literally spoiled for choice.
How might you answer that same question in 5 years’ time?
Evolution of content is the evolution of the market, and the consumer will always be King.
In the same way it started with ring tones almost two decades ago, VAS will evolve. Existing VAS will adapt to consumer demand and new ones will emerge too as a result. Technological advances will play a key factor in this. What will be the next big thing??? No definitive answer on this. But whatever it is I am confident that it will be available on mobile and DCB can be a mode to monetize it. Will it be THE mode…only time will tell.
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?
Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with amazing people and some truly amazing managers and CEO’s. I have learned a lot and continue to do so.
My current CEO once said to me when making decisions that it is good to ask oneself: “Is it sanity or vanity”. I have consciously started asking myself this across all parts of my life whenever I need to make a decision, and it has helped immensely.