As the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown extend into their second year, demand for digital services remains high. Digital entertainment, gaming and dating apps, and online learning and conferencing tools are being used at unprecedented levels worldwide. News and TV services also fall into this category, according to Oxford Business Group. Juniper Research estimates that there will be nearly 2 billion subscriptions to on-demand video services in 2025, up 65 per cent from the end of 2020.
The opportunity is there, and companies across the board are trying to take advantage of it. But turning it into a sustainable business that generates revenue is no easy task. Since April 2020, many have learned that it can be challenging to implement a system for smooth creation, delivery, and billing of on-demand digital services. Especially when speed is of the essence. Besides, many companies are wary of complexity, as they may already be struggling with disparate pieces that they need to bring together to take advantage of the digital opportunity.
In such uncertain times, budgets and capital expenditures are also key considerations. So are agility and scalability requirements. In emerging markets, high percentages of unbanked population call for alternative payment solutions, shaping on-demand digital services.
Shaping and delivering on-demand services via a cloud platform
Monetisation company Centili has been pioneering the platform approach to shaping and delivering digital services to the market to address this challenge. The new model is rooted in the decade-long experience and relationships in the field. Centili Maestro is a cloud-based managed service platform that enables frictionless ecosystem management and monetisation of digital experiences for mobile network operators, aggregators and enterprises, OTTs, gaming companies and other digital service providers. Maestro goes beyond providing payment features. It enables businesses to leverage Centili’s existing infrastructure and network to increase agility, reduce costs and drive revenue. Leveraging our analytics capabilities and decade-long transaction data, we aim to drive customer acquisition costs down and customer lifetime value up.
It is a game-changer as many companies try to get on-demand services up and running and scale them quickly while having all the technical, commercial and integration requirements resolved. It is a new paradigm in digital service delivery called Monetisation Platform-as-a-Service (MPaaS). As editor Paul Skeldon notes, Monetisation Platform-as-a-Service is a new quadrant in the digital ecosystem. MPaaS is a model that “brings together once disparate telemedia services such as messaging and engagement, content, aggregation and distribution with billing and payments, and offering all or part as a service to operators, brands and others in the digital world to create and orchestrate services on demand.”
The model has several key features attractive to mobile network operators in the post-Covid era:
1. It is global, allowing MNOs to tap into a wide range of digital services created outside their domestic markets.
2. It skips complex integrations and substantial capital expenditures that have repeatedly failed to deliver the desired ROI.
3. It helps telcos introduce agile and scalable models into their traditional way of doing business.
Centili based the Maestro Monetisation Platform as a Service (MPaaS) development on its extensive industry expertise, which provides more than delivering the needed services. Centili’s in-depth experience means identifying and facilitating potential opportunities for customers, too. The appetite for Maestro already has a significant impact on Centili’s business. It is expected to generate up to 50% of its turnover by the end of 2021.
Removing friction in digital content delivery and monetisation
Centili has spent years focusing on removing friction in digital content delivery and monetisation. Rooted in a lean, start-up culture, the company has closed gaps between stakeholders, cut through local regulations, facilitated partnerships and contractual arrangements across the globe.
It came up with beneficial commercial models and implemented seamless payments flows on mobile devices and PCs. It has grown with and learned from some of the leading global digital brands, serving them for a significant number of years.
The likes of Badoo, Wargaming and Busuu have all benefited from the Centili payment platform. They have repeatedly used it to launch and charge their digital services in new markets across the globe.
In January 2021, the company celebrated its 10th anniversary. It presented a new customer-centric brand identity based on the representation of people, customer benefits, and the business verticals the company operates in.
In the past, Centili often benefited from the knowledge and resources of its fast-growing sister company Infobip, one of the most prominent European unicorns in the communications space. At the same time, Centili nourished its own engineering and technical core, expanding its presence in Europe, South-East Asia, the Middle-East, and Africa. It has been awarded multiple times for its top-performing carrier billing platform and innovation capabilities.
When the experienced tech entrepreneur and executive Zoran Vasiljev took over as the group CEO in March 2020, he launched a growth strategy to take the company from the start-up stage towards a scale-up mode. In May, the company initiated a strong pivot in Monetisation Platform-as-a-Service. Since then, it has seen over ten companies, including telcos, digital merchants, and banks, adopt Centili Maestro.
Conversational commerce: From communication to payment
2021 will also see Centili offer solutions to facilitate conversational commerce for digital merchants looking to enhance their services. Already established in markets such as SE Asia, Europe and MENA, Centili is launching a plug-and-play solution that enables end-to-end technical delivery of conversational commerce from communication to payment.
The pandemic has seen a considerable uplift in conversational commerce in all markets as businesses look to enhance how they connect with their customers and enrich the customer experience to turn any customer interaction into a potential revenue opportunity. As customers enjoy the benefit of this richer digital experience, Centili will support enterprises as this approach becomes the expectation.
2021 is expected to be an exciting year for Centili. Celebrating ten years in an industry as dynamic and ever-changing as mobile payments is possible only if a business can read the market and adapt to meet customers’ needs.
This year will likely see an acceleration in platforms’ usage as the pandemic continues its pull-forward impact and speeds up forces that would have otherwise taken several years or more to unfold. A trend that drifts away from ownership and towards utilising platforms and partner expertise could make a tremendous impact in the digital on-demand services in 2021 - and beyond.
Olivier Letant is Group COO at Centili. An executive of varied biography and knowledge, Olivier Letant has more than 20 years of experience in management, M&A, and international relations. He has a reputation for setting the bars high, focusing on impact, and building trust within organisations. Born in France and educated in the USA, Letant lived and worked in China for ten years. He also has 12 years of work experience in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. He joined Axiata Group in 2011 as Head of Group Strategy and Analysis. From there, he moved to leadership positions at their Kuala Lumpur-based digital venture Apigate. Earlier in his career, he held senior positions with several management consulting firms, working with telecom and media companies to build and execute successful go-to-market and transformation strategies, build digital ventures, and advise on M&A and investments at scale. He has experience in diplomacy and journalism and served on the boards of several tech start-ups.
Centili is a global digital monetisation company focused on driving growth for its clients by providing innovative mobile payment solutions and frictionless customer experience. In-house developed, Centili platform is trusted by content providers, telco operators, mobile apps, game developers, and social networks worldwide. Centili offers its Monetisation Platform-as-a-Service to clients who wish to turn their existing users into paying customers. The platform enables seamless monetisation of digital content and virtual goods and opening new revenue streams. Centili helps partners orchestrate the ecosystem and monetise digital experiences across the globe.
Centili’s product portfolio is built on in-depth industry knowledge, local market presence, and years of large-scale cooperation with merchants and mobile operators. Centili is connected to 280+ telco operators, reaching more than 4 billion mobile users in 80 countries. The company has local presence in 9 countries where it provides local expertise and support.