The pandemic has changed the very nature of the global business ecosystem and has left us with an economic future that has never been more ambiguous. Telcos have learned a great deal from the challenges that were brought about by the pandemic and have placed an even greater emphasis on digital transpormation and innovation.

Telecom Review sat down with Mondia Group’s chief growth officer and CEO of Mondia Pay, Simon Rahmann to discuss the company’s experience throughout the pandemic and the trends that seem to have taken over the industry over the past few months.

What was Mondia’s experience like throughout the pandemic and how did it handle the challenges that were brought about by it?
We are fortunate that our business is of a digital nature and in fact, have seen a greater demand for digital experiences during this time. Every market we operate in is slightly different with a general mix of pre-paid and postpaid customers. Each of these customer segments presents its own unique opportunities and challenges. One immediate action on our part was the development of a Covid-19 screening tool with a US-based company that offered risk evaluation content delivered directly to users’ mobile devices.

Mondia has also seen steady revenue growth month-on-month even throughout the global pandemic, and with a solid strategy, we focused on being agile to deliver a world-class user experience for telco subscribers. Our local entertainment portals include music, video-on-demand and games with various opportunities to deliver value to the end-user. Our platform and infrastructure allow for quick content ingestion, which is regional and language-specific with the end-user in mind. Our strength lies in the fact that we take a full 360-degree approach, from marketing, user acquisition, content and user-lifecycle management, to billing, payment solutions, reporting and using big data to help develop better solutions.

The major challenge during this time was that customers were more reluctant to recharge or top-up their balances due to economic inactivity. We had to find alternatives to provide content and services creatively. In conjunction with our telco partners, we were able to offer additional value to secure customer loyalty in the long term.

In the Middle East, consumption trends are generally upward trending during the holy month of Ramadan, and this year was no different with people now having more time to consume digital content. We offered longer free trial periods to capture the market opportunity beyond this ‘crisis’ period. As economic activity returns to the ‘new normal’ we can now quantify customer retention rates as a result of our proactive engagement efforts.

What can telcos do to curb the downward revenue trends which have affected the industry during the first quarter of the year?
Most of the telcos in the region have seen a decline in revenues mainly brought on by uncertainty in the market coupled with a decline in economic activities. A decrease in consumer spending together with access to home wifi networks resulted in customers not recharging or purchasing additional data packages.

The opportunity for telcos is to focus more on customer loyalty and retention by offering an enhanced user experience. Simply put, the focus should be to offer value-added services beyond voice and data. Typically, any digital service is value-added and this could be anything from music, games, video, sports, news, etc. With the rapid shift away from on-the-ground and physical entertainment events, online streaming and hosting virtual events creates a new model to deliver an enhanced digital experience to both existing and new audiences.

Mondia’s track record, experience and extensive footprint especially in emerging markets enable Telcos to capitalise on these new opportunities with little effort or major investment.

What sort of opportunities has the pandemic given rise to which operators could capitalize on and enhance customer experiences? What role does Mondia play in this?
What is evident, is the importance of the user’s experience in consuming digital content. What has worked is a “try-it-before-you-buy-it” mentality giving the user a taste of the offering. This can be achieved by offering a complimentary period to showcase the value to the user, followed by a seamless subscription beyond the trial period. Our data points prove that user retention rates are higher when they can emerge and engage with the content offering.

Mondia has seen the success of this opportunity during the #StayHomeStaySafe campaign when operators offered free digital content and services for a selected period.

Another fantastic opportunity is the bundling of services with a discount offer. An example is a free music and video streaming service offered by the telco when a customer purchases a post-paid plan. Mondia’s role is to provide the technology behind the service as well as the payment and subscription management of the bundles.

Tell us more about Mondia Pay. How has it helped telcos within the region?
Mondia Pay is Mondia’s digital payment entity which enables an innovative payment collection method on behalf of premium merchants offered to the Telco’s customer base. Mondia Pay’s next-generation payment platform provides a highly scalable and secure payment gateway that both customers and merchants can trust.  With barriers such as credit card penetration and fraud, this digital payment solution offers a frictionless secure payment option. The technology platform allows for easy API integration and is operational within days. Mondia Pay is proven to enable conversion rates which are 10 times higher than traditional card payments, which makes it an ideal payment solution for Telcos.

The benefit to telcos is the exposure to premium digital merchants, without any effort on their part, as well as new revenue streams. In addition to this, the Telcos have an opportunity to broaden their offering to allow for greater retention and better customer satisfaction. To date, Mondia Pay has integrated over 300 merchants with over 80 operators across the globe. Merchants range from Deezer to PubG and WatchIT to OSN.

In addition to the tends mentioned above, Mondia Pay is perfectly positioned to promote the trend of transitioning into a cashless society.

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