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Marbella 2022


Content, messaging and payments come together at World Telemedia Marbella 2022


World Telemedia Marbella 2022 really showed how the industry is getting the message about everything from messaging to alt.payments to loyalty to the metaverse. So engaged, in fact, that the nearly 700 delegates were still actively meeting and doing business even after the show had officially closed on Friday afternoon. Some were even swapping cards at the airport that evening.

And quite right too. It was a stellar event, full of all the people that you need to meet to do business in this business.

What’s in a name?

Perhaps the biggest stand-out was the way in which messaging and CPaaS has become so mainstream to the sector so quickly. SMS is far from dead, it accounts for some 92% of all messages sent globally and generates billions of dollars for operators and service providers alike. That is incredible when you think that the remaining 8% covers all other messaging types, including WhatsApp and WeChat, RCS, Line and Telegram.

It also underpins the growing world of CPaaS. However, CPaaS demands that enterprise users start to tap into all these other messaging service, purely to ‘be where their customers are’ when looking for two-way conversational commerce to get off the ground

But getting businesses to buy into this messaging strategy is tough. They get that they need to be there with this array of messaging channels, but try and sell them a CPaaS system and they will look at you blankly. It just ain’t sexy.

Which is why MobileSquared’s Nick Lane used the show to launch what he thinks will be the best new name for this: the messageverse.

Self-proclaimed ‘Messagenaut’ Lane believes that selling the idea of the messageverse – an all encompassing world of messaging that covers all messaging types and treats business-to-consumer messaging (and vice versa) as a whole system of services – is key to getting businesses to buy in to this idea that you can buy in the vast array of messaging you need.

Others, notably Infobip, believe in the same thing, only they dub it Omni-channel messaging. Infobip was at the show bigging up its CPaaS offering, but as Rafal Nowak says, it needs a more user-friendly name. They have alighted on omni-channel messaging, which again does offer a neat catch all, and are pushing for this to become how the world refers not just to SMS but to the fact that there is just messaging.

Similarly, HORISEN has trumpeted Enterprise Messaging as its go-to phraseology to do the same thing.

What is interesting is that CPaaS has now become commoditised enough to need a proper name that can be sold. Be it Messageverse, omni-channel messaging or just Enterprise Messaging, the goal is to get more people using it. And that can only be good for the industry.

Pay in forward

Payments were of course also high on the agenda at the show, with billing and payment flows not only coming into their own as more consumers globally buy content on mobile, but also with flows such as DCB increasingly playing a roll in customer acquisition and retention.

There was a strong emphasis at the show on the rise of services in MENA and West Africa, propelled by DCB – and even IPRN and PSMS, as Kwak was keen to point out – and DCB here underpins the whole consumer shift to streamed media.

Getting a simple, low-cost way for the unbanked to tap into everything from online dating to Netflix has been the goal for digital expansion in the region and DCB holds the key to doing that.

With such a lot of cash on the table in this rapidly growing region, MNOs are also taking a smaller cut of the revenues, making the whole thing more affordable.

The rise of DCB is also being seen in Europe too, with similar economics coming into play. With the likes of Netflix, the NBA and others turning to DCB to up subscriber numbers in new territories, MNOs have again seen that its expedient to reduce their cut – a smaller cut of a much, much larger pie.

There are also competitive pressures coming to bear on carriers to make DCB more efficient. While often overlooked within the telco community as a small part of their overall business, the commoditisation of messaging along with this increasing interest from some globally massive brands is starting to make them rethink its importance.

And not too soon, either. Open Banking services across Europe – where the consumer can pay rapidly, securely and for free with bank to bank transfer – is starting to gain ground. It can’t yet quite do all that DCB can, but it is starting to look like a great competitor, nonetheless.

Content with content

The third pillar of modern telemedia is content. At the show it became clear that the world of content has come a long way since the days of ringtones and logos. Now it is not even just about streamed video and gaming, but more centred on a range of niches that use both streamed video and gaming – sometimes together – to service a very diverse audience.

Health and wellbeing became huge content sectors during lockdown and, while this continue to delight today, they are being joined by a range of educational, environmental and edutainment based services from both large brands and small individuals.

The large brands increasingly see niche content, delivered by mobile, as key way to reach segments of their audience and telemedia is what is delivering it. Canny MNOs see that they can make a buck from enabling this, but increasingly we are seeing content being dictated by users impacting what brands want to put out there, rather than brands looking to telcos to see what content they have that may work.

This is a slow and subtle shift that is happening, but one that has profound implications down the line for telcos. As with messaging and open banking, this move towards content not created nor curated by operators could see MNOs lose three niche parts of their businesses all at once. While neither is a large cash cow for opertaors on its own, all three together could well take billions from operator bottom lines.

It also makes a more profound shift for MNOs: it changes the perception of their brands among consumers and will, eventually, lead to them being – whisper it – ‘dumb pipes’. As World Telemedia Marbella 2022 showed, that shift has perhaps already started.