mobile payment opportunitiesHow do mobile operators across the Asia Pacific region view increasing competition from banks, credit card companies and mobile payments middlemen? What is driving mobile operators to mobile marketing and advertising strategies? Why is personalization a primary focus across mobile operator app stores and storefronts?

These are just a few of the questions examined in the new report Fighting Smart: Using Value-Added Services To Create Lasting Customer Loyalty. The report  — written by MobileGroove  and commissioned by Amdocs Interactive — is based on a survey of 120 telecom executives at major mobile operators across Asia Pacific conducted by market research firm Coleman Parkes.

The findings show that mobile operators are not just waking up to the opportunities to generate revenues through mobile marketing, mobile payments and personalization; they are grasping it with both hands.

Value-add through loyalty

Specifically, the survey found that the majority of respondents (62 percent) believe these value-added services are critical to their business. However,  the survey also revealed that revenue generation is not the top motivation for developing and delivering value-added services to mobile subscribers. Instead, respondents report the end-game is about increasing customer loyalty.

Mobile operators in Asia Pacific — more than in other regions such as North America and Europe — pursue a value-added services strategy to deliver a compelling customer experience, one that will allow them to boost individual loyalty and the lifetime value of their existing customer base. In fact, respondents identified stickiness and improving customer experience as their top two business drivers.

Mobile payments pay-off

Mobile operators in Asia Pacific are also advanced in their strategies to compete against banks, credit cards and middlemen in mobile payments and commerce. Interestingly, Asian mobile operators are not only gearing up for a fight (with 95 percent of respondents claiming to have a mobile payments strategy). They are confident they will win through operator billing, a strategy that stresses billing on behalf of third parties including app stores and providers of virtual goods.

In addition, 84 percent of respondents said they are pursuing bill payment services, 79 percent are investigating peer-to-peer money transfers and 76 percent are working to offer point-of-sale or similar services to enable the purchase of products using NFC.

Why are mobile operators bullish about the outlook for mobile payments and what do they expect to gain? The three top reasons for pursuing this strategy are:  new revenue streams, customer retention and enhanced customer experience.

Personalization and portals

Most Asian mobile operators are confident that their portals and applications storefronts are and will continue to be crowd pleasers. This is a very different picture from other regions where mobile operator portals, destinations that once dominated the landscape, are in serious decline. What’s more, 66 percent of respondents predict that their portals will grow in importance in the next three years, attracting and retaining a loyal audience of mobile users, in  part thanks to portal personalization approaches that emphasize content discovery and contextual relevance.

Among the findings:

  • 75 percent of respondents are pursuing mobile advertising and search strategies — and for good reason! The majority (65 percent) report that their subscribers would be willing to view mobile advertising in return for free content such as mobile apps or entertainment
  • 55 percent of respondents believe that personalization is the key to improving the value of content (and advertising) they deliver as part of the VAS offer
  • 50 percent of respondents believe that at least half of their subscribers will purchase smart phones over the next three years; Blackberry is the most popular platform followed by Android and Apple

Who’s afraid of Google?

Granted, respondents are well aware of the threat from over the top (OTT) players (players including Google, Apple and Facebook that deliver services via operator networks but bypass them completely in the value chain). However, it is interesting to note that mobile operators in this region are also not intimidated by OTT rivals. On the contrary, they are confident that the threat from these players will diminish over time.

My take:

Why the positive outlook? No doubt mobile operators across Asia Pacific are confident that the value added services they have baked into their offers will allow them to deliver a superior customer experience and beat the competition at its own game. In addition to developing their mobile payment strategies, mobile operators are also sharpening their focus on mobile advertising, mobile search, and personalization — an approach that will allow them to super-charge their value-added services for maximum impact.

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The new report is also the topic of this week’s Tweetchat organized by Amdocs Interactive and hosted by MobileGroove — on Wednesday, August 10. To ensure everyone across Europe and Asia Pacific can join in the discussion, the Tweetchat will take place at 9 am GMT/ 10 am CET/ 1:30 pm IST. Check here to see the time zone in your region, and please spread the word!

download reportFighting Smart: Using Value-Added Services To Create Lasting Customer Loyalty, available from today for free download from the Amdocs Interactive website.

Disclaimer: News and views across the mobile payments & personalization ecosystem is sponsored by Amdocs Interactive, an MG client and supporter.