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Vladimir Mitić: How carrier billing is set to revolutionise the mainstream digital economy – and why

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Vladimir Mitić has been working in the telecoms industry since 2013. Soon after starting as an Account Manager for Asian clients based out of Belgrade, Serbia he moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work as a Business Development Manager responsible for the same region.

For most of 2014, Vladimir worked out of Seoul, South Korea to meet with some of the biggest game publishers, visiting game expos and working with local payment gateways. Apart from business development and sales, he was also a member of the team that was developing virtual currency in Japan, working closely with one of the biggest payment gateways there.

Upon joining MACROKIOSK, he was responsible for leading and developing local sales teams in all MACROKIOSK offices across Asia as a Regional Sales Manager. Based out of Kuala Lumpur, his role involves engaging with local teams, conducting trainings, meeting with clients and participating in weekly meetings with C-level and founders.

In 2019, after almost 6 years in Asia, Vladimir moved back to Belgrade to start and head the MACROKIOSK Europe outpost.

Who are you and what is your current role?

My name is Vladimir Mitić and I am the General Manager of MACROKIOSK Europe.

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

Since the year 2000 MACROKIOSK has been providing innovative digital solutions to companies that are conducting their business in Asia. As such, MACROKIOSK is one of Asia’s leading digital technology companies and we firmly believe that this region represents one of the greatest opportunities for telemedia services.

The key factors to this are the large population, high smartphone penetration, a culture of adopting new technologies, low credit card penetration (for most countries), and time spent online. A recent study showed that the population of Southeast Asia spends more time online than any other region on the planet.

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

When I look at the statistics of YouTube views, hours of video uploaded and the number of Netflix users, it is obvious to me that for most people video format is the number one choice.

Likewise, in our markets, we see that good quality video content is something that is being increasingly offered and purchased using carrier billing.

Apart from digital content, I think that Direct Carrier Billing is great for the transportation sector. A good example is the parking system in Belgrade, Serbia where I am now based. Ever since I have started driving, I have been paying for parking by sending my license plate number to a shortcode. This system has been working perfectly for many years.

In the countries where MACROKIOSK is present, such as Malaysia, people also have the option of paying for their parking using carrier billing in certain cities.

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

We can already see some markets in Asia, such as in Korea and Japan, where Direct Carrier Billing has become mainstream and it has been widely accepted for a while. Telcos there were quick to identify the potential of Direct Carrier Billing and started making strategic partnerships with appstores as early as 2010. After Direct Carrier Billing gained traction, the operators even expanded to partnering with online retailers and started selling physical goods. I remember way back in 2014, I was already drinking coffee paid with Direct Carrier Billing in Seoul.

What contributed to a big part of the success of Direct Carrier Billing in Japan and Korea is the fact that both of those markets are predominantly postpaid and because of that they were able to provide high payouts to the merchants, which is almost as high as credit cards.

What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?

There are three key drivers for growth for Direct Carrier Billing:

1) Mobile phone becoming the main way of enjoying content and surfing the internet.

2) Anyone with a mobile phone can become a paying customer.

3) The simplicity of use of Direct Carrier Billing.

At the same time, the key inhibitors are:

1) Challenges related to cybersecurity, fraud and shady marketing practices.

2) Tight regulations regarding the type of content that can be sold.

3) High merchant costs.

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 working well in many industries like retail, insurance, travel, and more. Digital content and subscription services, on the other hand, are constantly struggling with this marketing model due to a large number of fraud cases and black hat practices.
This will continue to happen as long as there is a lack of transparency on traffic sources, lack of accountability for the publishers, impossible flows and companies willing to turn a blind eye to the methods used as long as they are bringing results. The whole ecosystem needs to evolve in order to solve the current issues

What are they likely to be?  

I think affiliate marketing can be a trusted channel but it needs to solve current problems and it needs the collaboration of all parties involved from publishers and agencies to content providers, payment providers, and mobile operators.

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

Direct Carrier Billing is a great tool because of its vast reach. Anyone that has a mobile phone can become a paying customer. I don’t think that the same can be said for any other online payment method for now. This is why I believe Direct Carrier Billing still has so much potential for growth.

Currently, the level of acceptance for cryptocurrencies is growing but it is still low and I think far from having a big impact on the way users pay online.

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?

When I started working in sales, I initially thought it is all about sales closure techniques, having a good pitch and all that ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ kind of stuff. I wasn’t good at it and I felt like it was not made for me.

One day, I was frustrated and I shared my feelings with a colleague who is more experienced in sales. He told me that I would be able to successfully sell him my product because he felt that I am honest and trustworthy. Clients are more likely to buy from someone they can trust. Since then I tried to apply this concept when dealing with partners. Sales techniques work well in some industries, but I prefer to focus more on building honest and lasting relationships with my clients.

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