—Sandhya Malhotra

New Delhi, July 10: Globally, the Value Added services (VAS) industry is going through a rough phase with the emergence of Over-The-Top (OTT) services. In that perspective, there is a need to discuss ways to make VAS or mobile value added services (M-VAS) business more profitable and relevant.

At the recent VAS Asia Conference-2015, in New Delhi, the delegates deliberated that Mobile-Commerce, Mobile-Governance, Mobile-Health and Mobile-Education are the future of M-VAS market in India.

VAS Asia

The event provided unique insights into the VAS market and in-depth analysis of mobile value added services market in India, drivers and restraints as well as growth opportunities.

The increased internet penetration in India over the years has been largely possible due to enhanced quality services by telecom operators at competitive rates.

Increasing quality of handsets at affordable rates, quality services by telecom providers, need of information, entertainment and M-commerce are driving the growth of mobile value added services. As the Indian consumers have upgraded themselves to smartphones, popular VAS such as short service message, astrology updates, news alerts and weather updates have been replaced by applications that have sophisticated features to meet consumer demands.

The M-VAS industry needs to undergo a complete transformation to stay relevant in the application driven economy.

Majority of the telecom operators and digital companies looked into the opportunities to boost revenues from 4G / LTE network, strategies in creating new revenue streams through the use of mobile messaging, the effects of convergence to the dynamic landscape of Mobile VAS, evolution of location-based services in India and mobile advertising which helps in maximizing marketing capabilities.

Rajat K Mukarji, chief corporate affairs officer at Ideal Cellular Ltd said, With plethora of devices, different OS and varying screen sizes and pixels, delivery of VAS services varies from person to person. “It has to be managed at the backend by the VAS applications vendors and service providers. Delivering VAS is complex, but one has to look into the positive experience. At Idea, we started the VAS with a focus on music, movies and sports, since then the list has expanded into learning English, mobile banking, astrology, news and alerts,chat and many others. The challenge has always been to provide seamless access to the users on his/her preferred devices be it voice, text, data, SMS.”

He also added that, “VAS revenues will grow and there will be a greater uptake by the users. In the last 8 years, the focus of VAS has expanded with the better coverage and large subscriber base. At present the need is to grow the VAS services slowly and steadily. VAS vendors have to be consistently focused on delivering the best content across digital platforms.”

Talking about the new avenues for growth of M-VAS in India, Arun Gupta, CEO & Founder, MoMagic Technologies said, “VAS providers need to expand the market by going to semi urban and rural markets with more local services. Find ways to increase revenue share for ‘Content/App’ Developer by looking into alternative distribution and payments, find services where users are already spending money. Just digitize them e.g. Gaming, Social, Entertainment, etc. and seamless deep integration with handset and keep watching Global market for Next Wave as that will be must for the urban market.”

The Indian MVAS market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.5% during the period 2015-2020. The consumer VAS and enterprise VAS market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.7% and 19.3% during the period from 2015 to 2020, respectively.

“The growing smartphones and tablets market in India has led to the demand of M-VAS and has brought in growth opportunities for telecom players, content related players and mobile manufacturing players in the market. The recent roll out of the 4G technology is expected to drive data traffic in the future. The traditional and modern M-VAS adoption and usages by customers are gradually increasing in the country,” said Arvind Bali, director and CEO, Videocon Telecom.

Reena Rathi, business head-VAS, Aircel added that, “VoLTE (or HD Voice) and Video over LTE are potential solutions for mobile operators to compete against VOIP OTTs through the handsets’ native dialer and the global HD voice market is expected to grow from $815.5 million in 2014 to $2,296.6 million in 2019. Besides this, Rich Communication Services (RCS) or ‘Enriched Calling’ is a suite of modern IP messaging services including 1-to-1 messaging, group messaging and media sharing, forecast to grow from $596.3 million in 2013 to $5,749.6 million in 2019.