Ten years ago, when Madrid-based mobile firm Telecoming was founded, Apple’s iPhone had only just gotten 3G connectivity – and BlackBerry’s Bold 9000 was the handset in the pocket of almost every corporate leader you knew.
Today the world stands on the precipice of 5G networks, enabling an (added) explosion of the Internet of Things. Download speeds of a Gigabyte per second may soon become commonplace.
That is music to the ears of Cyrille Thivat, Telecoming’s hugely experienced chief executive. Thivat has been in billing and micro-payments for two decades in Spain and his native France. His seven years at Telecoming’s helm has left Thivat is no doubt that 5G is a rapidly-approaching game changer for mobile players like his.
“One of the most important factors that shapes user experience is the connection, so the next big opportunity for us comes with 5G,” Thivat tells Red Herring. “Higher speeds, improved experience, greater data traffic volumes and mobile supremacy will be the main advantages that 5G is going to deliver to our activity.
“5G will open the door to a new era of digital consumption,” he adds, “because not only will it connect millions of new targets and devices, but it will be the gateway for differential proposals such as AR or VR.”
Faster connectivity is great news for a firm like Telecoming, which has positioned itself ahead of the curve in mobile entertainment. In 2008 it swam against the tide in striving to bring mobile entertainment to users worldwide.
Back then, as now, people were loathe to pay for digital content. Telecoming was convinced the answer was in payment, and set about creating technology that stressed three things: simplicity, security and universality. “It was the key step towards our differentiation: developing a content billing platform which was secure, well-designed, functional and that users trusted in, in order to pay for quality contents, instead of choosing poor free ones,” says Thivat.
Soon mobile became its own market. Almost everybody had a smartphone and delivery was streamlined. Telecoming was there already. Today it has a turnover of €68m ($80m) and 112 employees. It has penned deals with multinational brands like Viacom and the BBC to distribute in Spain – a developed market with almost 30m mobile users.
Almost 50% of mobile users’ time is spent on video content, according to telco Telefónica: Telecoming is growing ahead of the market. It is not resting on that success. Mobile ad fraud is a growing, global issue: according to AppsFlyer fraud has risen by 11.5% this year, increasing users and companies’ exposure to financial risk. Berlin-based Adjust places the cost at $4.9bn.
Telecoming has developed a powerful, in-house anti-fraud tool, TAFS (Telecoming AntiFraud System) in response. It “guarantees real time protection, which enables us to fight fraud from the basis,” says Thivat. “All the stakeholders must be involved in the fight against fraud. We as advertisers are directly affected and work close to regulators and operators to promote an advertising model based on usefulness.”
Useful Telecoming can certainly do. And with its home market dominated, Thivat and co are looking further afield for the next stage in their company’s growth. Last October Telecoming paired with Malaysian telco Axiata Digital to enter its market. That opens the door to 1.3bn mobile users in Asia-Pacific.
Thivat says that he plans to enter other nations in 2018, as Telecoming attempts to spin its Spanish success into a global mobile giant. It also plans to enter other verticals like ticketing, parking and transport. Thivat knows it will be hard work. But he is confident.
“The company’s biggest challenge is precisely to keep up with this extremely thorough growth strategy,” he says.