Telcos Stand To Gain $70billion In Digital Services In Emerging Markets

Telecom operators in emerging markets like Ghana stand to benefit from some US$70billion opportunity in digital services if they get their act right.

The opportunity stems from research jointly completed by leading mobile commerce company, Upstream and technology research company Ovum, which revealed that untapped digital services opportunities in emerging markets alone is valued at US$70billion.

The research, conducted in a number of emerging markets across Africa, Asia and South America, indicates that 72 per cent of consumers stay with a particular operator because of that digital services they get from that operator.

Again, 62 per cent trust telcos more than third party providers to deliver digital services, while another 64 per cent use either carrier billing or mobile money to pay for digital services.

Corporate Communications and Marketing Director of Upstream, Stavos Cosmetatos told Adom News at the ongoing Mobile World Congress that per the report, telecom operators need to focus on delivering digital services on their own and stop using third parties because consumers trust them better.

He said telcos already control the billing systems and have the confidence of the consumer so it is important to use digital services as a strategy to maximize consumer experience instead of leaving it to third party providers.

"This is key if telcos are to attract more people to subscribe to digital services and therefore maximize the monetization of the opportunities," he said.

But the report also noted that some 30 per cent of consumers find digital services unappealing because they lack local content, while 47 per cent say they receive too many digital service messages and 25 per cent say they receive unsolicited messages.

Some 24 four per cent are also interested in rewards for subscribing to digital services, and 37 per cent want the cost of digital services to be reduced.

Indeed, 28 per cent of consumers prefer digital services that are linked to data/air time bundles and 34 per cent prefer services that do not burn their data.

In that regards, Stavos Cosmetatos is advising telcos to adopt more local content in their digital services and also spread the cost of the subscription over a longer period, and offer services as a package with bundles.

He also believes consumers' request for rewards should be take seriously by the telcos because it will play a key role in telcos ability to gain from the US$70billion opportunity.

Some 34 per cent of consumers said they are not even aware their service provider offers digital services, and that, according to Cosmetatos, is because of poor marketing.

The research found that 53 per cent of consumers learn about digital services via telcos' own channels like SMS, and another 53 per cent also do so via social media, while 31 per cent get their information from other channels.

It also found that 32 per cent are willing to consume make digital services if the promo mix is right, and on that score Cosmotatos thinks the telcos ought to use promo means like free service, loyalty rewards and discounts to drive awareness, uptake and great experience.

In terms of what is most important to consumers, 61 per cent are concerned by security threats on their phones, 38 per cent are interested in buying games from their service provider, while 29 per cent want education services via mobile.

The Upstream Corporate Communications and Marketing Director believes those are pointers to what telcos should focus on in order to secure and sustain consumer interest in digital services, and thereby maximize the monetization of those services.