Charity Mgalima Omondi Co- founder and current CEO of Africa Development Connect (ADC), where she leads day to day operations of ADC and its strategy. Here she talks about how to provide quick assess and easy solution in DCB and bulk SMS to the region.
What does you company do?
Africa Development Connect (ADC) provides payment aggregation for content; that is through Carrier Billing and Mobile money wallets. We also provide routing for bulk SMS. Our main goal as an organisation is to provide easy connection and a quick go to market solution for partners who want to enter Africa and expand their foot print within this region. But essentially our biggest dream will be when we are able through our existing partners to also provide foot print for African content creators across the globe
What sectors does your business operate in?
- Value added services
- Carrier Billing and mobile money payments aggregation
Which countries or regions do you feel represent the greatest opportunity for your telemedia services in 2022?
We provide foot print in African countries especially Sub-Sahara region; we are very strong in Southern Africa (Zambia, Malawi , Mozambique , Zambia , Zimbabwe ,Botswana ,South Africa & Angola) East Africa ( Kenya , Tanzania , Uganda , DRC Congo & Rwanda), West Africa (Nigeria , Ghana , Senegal ) and we also have a foot print in North Africa . Our focus is Majorly to provide connection in less aggregated countries.
Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which markets?
We do believe Carrier Billing will become main stream in AFRICA as it is gaining a reboot right now. (Carrier billing used to be the first method of billing content in Africa around 2008 to 2015). Now it’s re-emerging due to the increase in smart phone penetration, easy access to internet and reduced internet connection costs. This has led to an increase in consumption of Telemedia services pushing the demand for carrier billing to mobile operators.
However, it’s important to note the place of Mobile Money Wallets in Africa, reason being Mobile Money is a way to pay and it’s becoming a life style for most Africans. Therefore, it’s important for content providers planning to enter Africa to be open to adopting mobile money as another payment method that can be used for billing content services on top of carrier billing. Mobile money gives content providers /merchants the opportunity to make more revenue with less effort as MNO’s only take a maximum of 5% from their revenues as compared to carrier billing where we part with sometimes up to 70% to 80% of our revenues.
How do you balance payment flows, operator relationships and customer satisfaction?
We pride ourselves in listening to our clients requirements first and then strive to get them the best flows from the operator basing on their platform capability. It’s always a slippery ground but Africa Development Connect being an experienced aggregator it’s our priority to get our partners the deal that makes them happy and on the other hand implement flows with less failure points and ease of billing for end users (customers).
What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?
For carrier billing in sub saharan Africa:
- Flows – most countries don’t do click flow which is preferred among most carrier billing content providers – you only find MO and MT flows in some countries.
However you need to note that flow restrictions are not available with mobile money billing, that’s why we believe that this could become the future of content billing in Africa:
- Internet penetration has been another challenge however things are fast changing with emergence of internet cable companies. In such a way we have seen a big growth in consumption of Telemedia services since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Fraud has been another hindrance that has forced some MNOs to completely close carrier billing as a mode of payment due to increased number of customer complaints to the regulatory authorities. But the emergence of fraud monitoring technologies have really helped to shape a new image around carrier billing.
- And the ever changing regulations around carrier billing with MNOs and regulatory authorities which mostly affect pricing and revenue sharing. So it’s very important for content providers and aggregators like ourselves to always be compliant and keep up to date with country trends and regulations.
- Most Africans were used to consuming free media services but there has been a shift in mind set towards consumption of premium high quality service.
What major factors do you think will impact the future development of mobile payments and which other payment options represent the biggest threat?
Internet Penetration. In Sub Sahara Africa, internet penetration plays a huge role in the development of mobile payment.
Growth of Mobile Money Wallets is also important. Not a threat but another opportunity, mobile money payments will provide a second option for billing. It might even grow to become the number one way to pay for media content services across sub Sahara Africa as we have seen both MNOs and governments pushing for this to become main stream way to pay for goods and services.
How likely is it that crypto currencies will become popular telemedia/mobile payment mechanisms for premium content, services and applications?
In Africa mobile money will become popular mode of payment for Premium content, services and applications more than crypto currency.
Is SMS future proof?
To a certain extent not as a mode of communication between people but as a messaging tool for organisations to communicate with customers, so it will still be there.
Is the industry doing enough to combat fraud and tackle cyber security?
Not really there is a lot that needs to be done to gain customer/ MNO trust, but everyone has to play a part to give a room to ant fraud technology companies. That being, content merchants, aggregators ,MNOs etc. Everyone has a role to play.
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?
- Business is a game of patience, there is a journey to every product, every project and every idea give things time to grow.
- Don’t follow revenues follow the strategy.
- And learn the importance of collaboration at every level within the organisation and outside your organisation; collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.