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MEET THE PEOPLE Razvan Bileca, COO, Audiotext.com

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Razvan Bileca is the Chief Operational Officer of Audiotext.com, a platform offering users an easy onboarding into the international premium rate numbers market. With extensive experience in dealing with clients and partners across a multitude of industries, from gaming to hospitality and sales, Razvan has specialized in customer service, marketing, project management and software development and looks to bring a fresh perspective to the industry.

Who are you and what is your current role?

My name’s Razvan Bileca and I am the Chief Operating officer of Audiotext.com.

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

Each geographical area has its own particularities, and we see good opportunities in many different geographies.

Europe has strong internet accessibility and penetration, so we see an excellent opportunity to partner with small and medium content creators and influencers and offer them a new monetization opportunity for their social media reach.

Africa has lower internet penetration and accessibility, and much lower access to banking opportunities, so here we are focusing on partnering with local network operators and offering direct billing solutions.

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

With the rise of social video platforms, we’re witnessing the decentralization of traditional television services and we see an amazing opportunity to partner with independent content creators and offer them premium rate phone services as a new vertical for monetization.

While each country only has a few big content creators like “The Voice” and other traditional TV shows, the new wave of small independent content creators is quite large in countries with good internet penetration and their cumulative potential far outweighs that of traditional tv shows.

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

Direct Carrier Billing is already a well-established payment method for day to day services in several areas.

The gaming industry has been steadily adopting DCB as an alternative payment method for years, parking and other small value traffic fees have been payable via premium SMS.

We look forward to contributing to the continued growth of this sector by expanding our offering to include partners from more market verticals that will monetise their services by charging their clients using calls and SMS to premium rate services.

What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?

I would say that by far the biggest growth driver in our market is the quick adoption of mobile services, especially in the developing countries, coupled with a huge un-banked population of 1.5+B people globally. Just in 2017 it was reported that 57% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa did not have a bank account. These are huge numbers which also mean a huge opportunity for our business.

We need to remember that the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is still today the biggest and most ubiquitous network in the world, especially in such world of fragmented OTT messaging applications.

I would say one inhibitor of growth is still the penetration rate of VAS services to the global carrier community. Granted, we have seen very positive adoption of premium rate and related services but I think the adoption isn’t equally distributed around different geographies. Having said that, I think this represents also a huge opportunity as more and more carriers and MNOs start to see the potential, especially in the wholesale telecoms industry where established players have been facing a continued margin erosion for years.

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 channels have always been a very effective, measurable and precise route to market both in general and specifically relating to tele-media services. However, I do believe that influencer marketing will become more prevalent in the coming years. We’ve seen this trend in different market verticals and I do see value added services follow the same trend.

What does Audiotext.com bring to the market and how do you see your platform evolving to changing industry trends?

We have spent a lot of time researching the market and the thing that struck us most is how outdated and hard to use most platforms are.

You can tell when a product was built by engineers for engineers versus when a product’s been designed with the needs of the end user in mind. We see a lack of user focused design and a certain lack of innovation in the industry and we very much look forward to filling this gap.

Audiotext.com offers partners a clean, easy to use and modern interface and we put a great deal of importance on building strong synergetic relationships with all our partners, and one of the first steps we will take to grow our product will be offering premium SMS in the near future.

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

To be honest I think we’ve seen a peak in the general public interest in cryptocurrencies mainly during 2017-2018, but not as a payment mechanism and strictly in a speculative way. However, I do see a declining trend here boosted by recent security issues.

The technology is fundamentally sound, and I believe it would resolve some of the older vulnerabilities of the telecoms industry if adopted as a settlement mechanism for carrier to carrier settlements.

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?

The best piece of advice I can offer anybody who’s working on products is to start small and stop trying for perfection.

Iterative design really is the best way to build:

Start small, build the most basic prototype, Play with it and see what’s missing.

I used to obsess over every little detail of the product and I only saw the glass half empty.

It all changed for me when I came across a class by Nikhyl Singhal and he was describing exactly the different development steps a product goes through. He called the first stage ‘The Drunken Walk” and explained that the vision of the product changes continuously and once past the initial development stages the vision should adapt to the current market feedback.

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