I was back in Singapore last month to attend MOBILE VALUE ADDED SERVICES (VAS) ASIA 2012 organized by IBC Asia. It was pretty interesting listening to various presentations by operators, VAS providers, mobile Internet companies etc. Most of the attendees were operators actually, from around the region such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.
Speaking to some of the local operators, it seems like the very high basic data quota of 12G that Singapore consumers are given are not that big a problem for the revenue streams. Of course it is reducing drastically the revenue from voice and SMS services traditionally offered by the operators, by over-the-top (OTT) players such as Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and Facebook.
However, operators seem confident of retaining their customers and revenue streams, sharing their targeted marketing campaigns where they advertise different services which different groups of consumers are interested in. There is almost zero complaints with regards to these campaigns.
Most operators also shared their ideas on increasing revenue from prepaid card users.
According to a Starhub presentation, 70% of their prepaid card users are foreign workers. To these consumers, music and social networking is popular, and data usage makes up significant revenue in the prepaid stream. There have been various initiatives to get consumers to start using these data consuming applications. For example, Singtel provides free access to Facebook for all its users using 0.facebook.com. This is targetted at non smartphone users as it is a text-only Facebook site. This service has to be activated first and consumers will be charged when they wish to view photos/graphics and be redirected to them.
In markets such as Indonesia where prepaid cards are common, operators have bundled packages, charging the consumers based on a pack of data they use for different applications such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube etc. This is supposedly an educational process; getting users previously not familiar with these applications to start using data. Though personally as a consumer I feel that this is pretty much charging me for things that I don’t necessarily will use.
Overall, the conference was a good opportunity to understand the developments of the region outside China. And also allowed me to spend more time back home in sunny Singapore 🙂