By Guy Reiffer, Vice President, Marketing
What most people do not know is that when they get on a plane, get off and switch on their mobile, the record of that call and their roaming activities more than likely goes through MACH. MACH operates the largest data clearing and settlement house in the world and clears approximately €10 billion every year through its systems.
We sit among 650 mobile operator customers and act as the middleman. They have to clear funds among themselves to settle, so rather than having 650 relations, they pay an aggregated invoice into us and then we settle that with their partners.
We see 70 billion transactions a year- this allows us and our operator customers to see what people do while roaming and to identify their usage and behaviour paterns. For example, if you are using an iPad abroad, an operator can offer you special tariffs because they know you are a high value user.
For our operator customers, we can spot their ‘diamond’ subscribers – the corporate and high end users – and optimize their wholesale process for these subscribers, a process which is quite resource intensive. This allows the operator to focus on its retail business – putting good deals across to its subscribers.
Earlier this year, we did a survey amongst consumerswhich showed that although 56% of people are aware that the EU regulates prices at the wholesale level, 77% of these say they haven’t changed their roaming habits because of it. Furthermore, 38% of users say they actually switch their mobile phones off when roaming – 54% of these cite cost as the reason why. There is simply no visibility as to how much a data roaming call costs.
So we have developed a service where an operator can tailor a specific bundle (for example, Facebook free within a specific roaming package) for subscribers, or offer a self selection portal to subscribers. For example, when you are roaming, you will receive an SMS asking whether you’d like to tailor your roaming and you can then choose the applications that you’d like to use. The service gives you complete visibility of the usage and reassures you that you won’t suffer from bill-shock when you return home. This enhances data usage and broadens the use of data roaming.
Of course the structure of the service depends on which part of the world you are in. For instance, in Europe, people probably don’t want to select a specific application. They would more likely rather buy a 2 mega byte package or a holiday package. Whereas, in other parts of the world, people are much more willing to spend time choosing things if they believe it could save them money. Our solution gives operators complete visibility of what applications and how much their subscribers have used.
This is a roaming solution that we will launch this year. In essence, we are allowing people to choose what they want to use and therefore spend when roaming. There is a direct link between what they consume and what they pay. In domestic markets there is no such link. People want investment in LTE and 4G networks, but actually they don’t want to pay any more than they do today. That’s the biggest problem the operators face today and what is driving them to solutions such as WiFi off load. Taking this solution into the domestic market will be a decision that our operator customers will make for us.