Mobile and DTH Business

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Rohit sengar Managing Director Sengar's Business Prodigies Pvt. Ltd.

Rohit sengar
Managing Director
Sengar’s Business Prodigies Pvt. Ltd.

What is the mobile DTH recharge business all about?

With the user base for Telecom and DTH subscribers growing leaps and bounds, a number of third-party recharge players like FreewayRecharge are trying to tap into this fastest growing market.

Imagine you reach home  after a long day at work. Suddenly you realize that you have to make an urgent call or your DTH needs to be recharged as you have run out of cash balance.

What do you do?   Do you want to make the effort of going all the way to a recharge shop to top-up your account.  Well, there is a simple solution to this  problems: simply log on to www.freewayrecharge.com website and recharge your mobile or DTH account within minutes. And that too at the convenience of your home! Paid  through a safe and secure payment gateway provided by E-Billing Solutions  were you could pay through your Debit/Credit Card or Net Banking.  Could this be a potential business opportunity for many? And what if do not have excess to internet facility.  In this article, we shall  discusses on the nitty-gritty of entering doing such a business.

How big is the Telecom and DTH Recharge  market?

The telecom industry in India is growing at breakneck speed, and the majority of the growth is contributed by the wireless or mobile segment. In July 2009, TRAI estimated India’s tele-density to be 41.08 with the total telephone subscriber base reported to be 479.04 million. Of this, while the wire line base was just 37.41 million, wireless subscription (including GSM, CDMA and FWP) accounted for 441.66 million connections. What is even more interesting is that a majority of the wireless connections, almost 90% of them are prepaid. Given an ARPU of around Rs 200, we can assume that an average recharge is Rs 200 per month, or Rs 2400 per year. Based on these numbers, the recharge industry size works out to be approximately Rs 9600 crore per year.
Talking of DTH, though the number of players in this sector are few, they are also reportedly expanding at 35-40%. India’s TV viewership is believed to be the second highest in the world and is expected to swell up to 35-40 million by 2012. The installed base of DTH is very small compared to this number. So, this space also remains mostly untapped and could offer a big opportunity to  recharge players.

The Industry Landscape
Mobile connections in India 441.66 million
Prepaid connections (90%) 397.49 million
Average recharge per month per person Rs. 200
Average recharge annually per person Rs. 2400
Total Recharge Industry Rs. 9600 crore

Business models (Online and Offline)

The recharge market in India is vast and is on the lookout for new channels to expand. Currently, the market can be broadly split into two – offline and online. 

tel

Offline Recharge Market:

The offline sector is dominated by scratch cards that are distributed by telecom players and sold through retail outlets ranging from Mobile sales and repair shops to the more generic pan shops.
Currently, the market is dominated by recharge cards than by e-recharges. The scratch card segment works through a PIN recharge model, wherein a telecom service provider sells a 16 digit PIN to the user through the scratch cards. For this, a number of background processes take place at the service provider’s end including the generation and scrambling of the 16 digit PIN, printing it and then the customer (or more usually the retailer) SMSes the code to the service provider to recharge the customers account.

Typically, each service provider has multiple recharge plans (usually 5 or more) running at any time and each telcom circle has about 5 players. So, a retailer has to stock 25-30 different varieties of scratch cards. In practice, the retailer stocks only the more popular plans and sometimes is even selective about the service provider. So, a given retailer may actually stock under 10 different recharge options.

The margins in the recharge business is wafer thin. There is no concept of wholesaler in this business. For most retailers, recharge cards are top-up income or at best help draw customers who may also buy something else from him. More money is to be made from activation (selling a new prepaid SIM card to a customer and activating his number) than from selling a recharge coupon. The online recharge model does away with the retailer but every one in India specially the rural India does not have excess to debit/Credit cards or internet banking  but Mobile phones and DTH have entered these area creating a vast business opportunity and that is were the role of Single SIM recharge through SMS plays a very big role.

Online Recharge Market:

On the other hand, the online recharge business is serviced by several channels – the service providers through their own websites and recharge through ATMs have been the traditional methods here. Third party recharge players such as freewayrecharge.com, are the new entrants in the fray. Who provide a safe and secure payment gateway of      E-Billing Solutions  were a customer could pay through his Debit/Credit Card or Net Banking.

Since the user interface of these players is a website, the target audience is mostly urban population. Defining the target audience base further, only those with easy internet access as well as those who feel comfortable purchasing online are currently customers to this service. According to a study conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, India had an estimated 45.3 million ‘active’ Internet users as on September 2008, of whom 42 million were from the urban areas. This could as well be the potential customer base for an online third party recharge player. There are some moves by the online players to dramatically increase their target base. More about that later.

How is freewayrecharge different from other recharge companies and  does Single SIM Recharge  also known as Single SIM Multi Recharge model work?

Freewayrecharge provides its customers to recharge their Pre Paid Mobile Phones. Data Card and DTH through safe and secure payment gateway of EBS as well as by subscribing for its Single SIM Recharge were we provide online as well as offline  recharge options to customers. There are several reasons behind this. From the point of view of consumers, this option offers convenience.  We ease this process by providing all the recharge options of all telecom players on a single platform online as well as offline by activating your SIM Card as a Multi Recharge Machine. The customer need not spend any amount by changing his mobile phone or SIM card. Every consumer who is registered can deposit  fund in our company account and receive fund in his wallet that can be accessed online as well as offline via SMS and at the convenience of their homes. This also gives customer the right to chose how he would like to recharge his mobile, data card or DTH throughout India by using the payment gateway facility or wallet facility provided by freewayrecharge.

Moreover, the expertise of the telecom service provider is to provide service rather than selling recharge coupons. And this kind of feature is even difficult to find on most service providers’ websites”.
What is the revenue model?

So how do these players make money? These players either deal with the telecom players directly or through aggregators. Similar is the case with DTH services. Whenever a customer comes to the site for a recharge, the telecom service provider pays up to an average of 4% of the recharge amount to the third party vendors.

DTH Players
Tata Sky
Sun Direct TV
Airtel Digital TV
Dish TV
Reliance Big TV

The recharge vendor has to pay about 3% to the payment gateway provider. That typically leaves the recharge player with a 1 % margin, from which all their costs including technology costs have to be met. And that makes this a volume game. Of course, these percentages are negotiable, given volumes and relationships with payment gateways and service providers.

Some players have incorporated other revenue channels for increasing their margins. One way is to charge a transaction or convenience fee like IRCTC does. For example, Fastrecharge.com and Onestoprecharge.com charges an Internet service charge of 11% and 4% respectively to its customers. Another revenue source (albeit a minor one) could be Internet advertising.
Some challenges

There are several challenges that this segment of the industry faces. One, establishing a relation with the telecom players is a hard nut to crack. This is because these players already have a fairly good distribution network for scratch cards. Two, since this sector is dependent on technology, it needs constant upgradation. Security of online transactions is another critical factor. Managing dealings with payment gateways require constant monitoring and reconciliation. Automated systems that can do this become the norm for large volumes. You also need an efficient redressal system to deal with customers who pays for a recharge but whose recharge does not happen. Freewayrecharge.com for example says that they try to keep this down by doing an automatic credit back if a recharge is not successful at the service provider end – that is, if their systems do not get an acknowledgment from the service providers’ systems of a successful recharge.

Like we briefly discussed earlier, another way could be to increase the target audience by introducing new channels or aggressively adopting existing channels to your business. One of the limitations for the online recharge business has been the limiting of their target audience to the urban population with easy Internet access. On the other hand, large volumes of recharge users become part of your target if you include rural and those with no internet access. The route to this of course is the huge mass of retailers who deal with paper based recharge coupons.

One way of doing it is similar to what IRCTC has done – enable existing resellers (agents in the case of IRCTC) to use your platform and add that to your business. For e-recharge, the online recharge player has to first create an e-wallet for the retailer who then recharges against the balance available in his wallet. An e-wallet is a virtual wallet, i.e. a retailer has to credit his e-wallet account in advance and recharges done gets debited against that, much like a debit card.

 Conclusion

It is early days still for the business of online recharge. The number of players is still small. The potential market size is huge, but the margins are wafer thin. The winners will be not just the ones who achieve scale and efficiencies of operation which are given, but the ones who are able to break through the clutter and add new income sources or payment options like micro payments to their existing platforms.

 

 

 

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100% FDI in telecom to spur interest in upcoming auctions: BofA  

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PTI : NEW DELHI, JUL 21 2013, 15:20 IST

Government’s decision to fully open the cash-starved telecom sector is expected to renew interest from foreign players in the upcoming spectrum auctions, global financial major Bank of America Merrill Lynch says in a report.

Last week, the government permitted 100 per cent foreign direct investment in telecom, versus the 74 per cent ownership cap earlier.

“The policy initiative offers fresh hope of capital availability for an industry whose indebtedness is steep and equity-options were hitherto constrained by ownership complications,” the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA-ML) report said.

Moreover after two failed spectrum auctions in last 12 months, “the 100 per cent FDI move offers hope of renewed interest from foreign majors in upcoming spectrum auctions,” the report added.

In November 2012 and March 2013, the government had put on auction more than half of the spectrum that was freed after the Supreme Court in February last year cancelled 122 mobile permits issued by the then Telecom Minister A Raja in 2008.

The auctions got tepid response from operators and fetched the government a fraction of the sum that was projected.

According to BofA-ML, the opening up of the telecom sector is just a first step and more policy improvements are likely. Further policy improvements especially with regard to spectrum pricing and allocation are needed.

“We expect the government to address concerns over steep reserve prices for spectrum – auctions and caps on spectrum ownership,” the report said.

On July 11, telecom regulator TRAI said it had received reference from DoT seeking recommendation on spectrum price for third round of auctions and would start consultation process shortly.

In terms of companies, Bharti and Idea which already have large foreign partners (SingTel and Axiata) and are less likely to be M&A targets, the report said.

Reliance Communications has the highest leverage, besidesRCom does not have any strategic foreign partner so far, it added.

As per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Foreign Direct Investment in India’s telecom sector plunged to USD 93 million in the April 2012-January 2013 period.

 

 

2G: Reliance Telecom moves SC against summoning Anil, Tina Ambani as witnesses

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NEWreliance DELHI: Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL) on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging trial court’s order summoning Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses in 2G spectrum allocation scam case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, before whom the matter was mentioned for an urgent hearing, agreed to hear the case and posted it for July 24 before an “appropriate bench”.
RTL, facing trial in the case, moved the Supreme Court against the trial court’s order as the apex court had earlier restrained all other courts, including high court, from entertaining any plea arising out of 2G scam case.

The trial court had on July 19 allowed CBI’s plea that the testimony of Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani may throw light on alleged investment of over Rs 990 crore by his group companies in Swan Telecom, facing trial in the case along with its promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka.

It had said CBI’s plea to summon Anil Ambani, Tina and 11 others as prosecution witnesses was essential for arriving at a just decision in the case.

Testimony of Anil and Tina is required to prove the facts “pertaining to incorporation of shell companies as some of the witnesses examined earlier have not been able to do so,” it had said.
The court had dismissed the contentions of the counsel for the accused persons that CBI’s plea “suffers from the vice of delay” saying the process of examination of prosecution witnesses is still underway.

RADAG’s Group company RTL is an accused in the case. Three top Reliance ADAG executives — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — are also facing trial in the case.

The agency had alleged RTL used Swan Telecom, an ineligible firm, as its front company to get 2G licenses and the costly radio waves.

 

 Logon to www.freewayrecharge.com for Pre Paid Mobile, Data Card and DTH Recharge. Contact us oninfo@freewayrecharge.com to activate your mobile for Single SIM Multi Recharge by SMS