Indonesian payments infra startup Xendit raises $64.6M in Accel-led Series B

Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation is happening all over the world. And Southeast Asia is no exception.

Indonesia’s Xendit, a startup focused on building digital payments infrastructure for the region, has just raised $64.6 million in a Series B led by Silicon Valley heavyweight Accel. The funding brings the total amount raised by the Jakarta-based company to $88 million since its 2015.

Notably, Y Combinator also participated in the financing. In fact, Xendit is the first Indonesian company to go through Y Combinator’s accelerator program. It also was ranked No. 64 on Y Combinator’s top 100 companies (by valuation and top exits) list in January 2021

Xendit works with businesses of all sizes, processing more than 65 million transactions with $6.5 billion in payment value annually. Its website promises businesses that “with a single integration,” they can accept payments in Indonesia and the Philippines. The company describes itself as building out financial services and digital payments infrastructure “in which the next generation of Southeast Asian SaaS companies can be built on top of,” or put more simply, it aspires to be the Stripe of Southeast Asia.

Xendit has been growing exponentially since its launch — with its CAGR (compound annual growth rate) increasing annually by 700%, according to COO and co-founder Tessa Wijaya. In 2020, the company saw its customer count increase by 540%. Customers include Traveloka, TransferWise, Wish and Grab, among others. Xendit declined to reveal hard revenue figures.

It also declined to reveal its current valuation but we do know that as of October 2019, it was valued at at least $150 million – a pre-requisite for appearing on this Y Combinator liston which it ranked No. 53. 

The idea for Xendit was formed when CEO Moses Lo met his co-founders while studying at University of California, Berkeley. Shortly after, they went through Y Combinator, and launched Xendit in 2015. 

One of the company’s main benefactors was Twitch co-founder Justin Kan. According to Lo, “he happened to have some family in Indonesia, and it was also about the time when Asia was becoming more interesting for YC.”

Xendit was originally launched as a P2P payments platform before evolving into its current model.

Today, the startup aims to help businesses of all sizes seamlessly process online payments, run marketplaces, distribute payroll manage finances and detect fraud via machine learning. It aims for fast and easy integrations so that businesses can more easily accept payments digitally.

The market opportunity is there. One of the world’s most populous countries that is home to more than 270 million people — an estimated 175 million of which are internet users — Indonesia’s digital economy is expected to reach $300 billion by 2025.

Add to that a complex region that is home to 17,000 different islands and a number of regulatory and technological challenges.

“Trying to build the businesses of tomorrow on yesterday’s infrastructure is holding Southeast Asia’s businesses back,” Lo said.

The global shift toward more digital transactions over the past year led to increased demand for Xendit’s infrastructure and services, according to Wijaya. To meet that demand, the company doubled its employee headcount to over 350 currently.

The pandemic also led to Xendit branching out. Prior to 2020, many of the company’s customers were large travel companies. So the first few months of the year, the startup’s business was hit hard. But increased demand paved the way for Xendit to expand into new sectors, such as retail, gaming and other digital products.

Looking ahead, the startup plans to use its new capital to scale its digital payments infrastructure “quickly” with the goal of providing millions of small and medium-sized businesses across Southeast Asia with “an on-ramp to the digital economy.” It is also eyeing other markets. Xendit recently expanded into the Philippines and also is considering other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, according to Wijaya.

Xendit is also similar in scope to San Francisco-based Finix, which aims to make every software company a payments company. Xendit acknowledges the similarities, but notes it is also “looking to tackle broader challenges related to accessibility, security and reliability that are unique to Southeast Asia,” with a deep understanding of the region’s unique geographical and cultural nuances.

To Accel partner Ryan Sweeney, Xendit has “quietly” built a modern digital payments infrastructure that’s transformed how Southeast Asian businesses transact.

“Their team’s combination of deep local expertise and global ambitions means they’re uniquely positioned to do what no other company could do in the region,” he said. “The vision of Xendit is a bold one: they are building the digital payments infrastructure for Southeast Asia, and fits squarely into Accel’s global fintech thesis.”

Other fintechs that Accel has backed include Braintree/Venmo, WorldRemit,GoFundMe and Monzo, and more recently Galileo, TradeRepublic, Lydia, Public.com and Flink.

#accel, #digital-services, #digital-transformation, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #jakarta, #payment-solutions, #payments, #philippines, #recent-funding, #ryan-sweeney, #southeast-asia, #startups, #venture-capital, #xendit, #y-combinator

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As DevOps takes off, site reliability engineers are flying high

Each year, LinkedIn tracks the top emerging jobs and roles in the U.S.

The top four roles of 2020 — AI specialist, robotics engineer, data scientist and full-stack engineer — are all closely affiliated with driving forward technological innovation. Today, we’d like to recognize number five on the list, without which innovation in any domain would not be possible: the site reliability engineer (SRE).

We see the emergence of site reliability engineers not as a new trend, but one closely coupled with the theme of DevOps over the last decade. As coined, it was supposed to be something that you do and not something that you are. However, as time has passed, DevOps has found its way into roles and titles, often replacing “application production support” or “production engineering.”

What we are seeing now and predicting into the future is the rise of site reliability engineer as a title relating to the practice of DevOps and better describing the work to be done. At the time of our writing, there are more than 9,000 open roles for SREs on LinkedIn, a number that is only growing.

Software focused on helping engineers ensure reliability and uptime isn’t a new phenomenon, and the market has supported numerous billion-plus dollar exits, including companies like AppDynamics and Datadog . Nonetheless, we see an impending tipping point in tooling catering to the SRE persona across their entire workflow. We’ll discuss why the market is taking off and share our view of the landscape and the many inspired founders building technology to transform the practice of reliability — a foundational block for innovation across every industry.

Why now?

  • The service is the product: As more applications have moved to being delivered as a service, moving from the realm of IT to SaaS, the service itself has become the product. Anything delivered as a service must keep an eye toward the old, basic concept of customer service. This shift began at the application layer (e.g., Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow) and over time has spread to infrastructure layer software (e.g., Datadog, HashiCorp) and has even impacted on-prem software. As Grant Miller, CEO at Replicated, put it further, “Traditional on-prem software vendors have transitioned away from delivering binary executables (.jar, .war, .exe, etc.) and expecting their customers to set up the necessary components manually. Now, vendors are leveraging Kubernetes as the substrate to deliver a much more automated and reliable experience to their customers, and redefining what ‘on-prem software’ traditionally meant.”

    #agile-software-development, #cloud, #column, #covid-19, #datadog, #developer, #devops, #digital-services, #e-commerce, #engineer, #firehydrant, #grafana, #pagerduty, #saas, #security, #servicenow

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BMW wants to sell you subscriptions to your car’s features

BMW today announced a number of updates to its in-car software experience during a VR press event, complete with a virtual drive through Munich to show off some of these features. These new updates will come to most recent BMWs that support the company’s Operating System 7 later this year — and new cars will already have them built-in.

The company is able to launch these regular updates because it is now able to not just update the car’s infotainment system but virtually every line of code that’s deployed to the various compute systems that make up a modern vehicle. And because of this, the company is now also able to bring a couple of features to market that it has long talked about.

One of those features — and maybe the key announcement from today’s event — are updates to BMW program for subscribing to specific hardware features that are may already be built into your car, like heated seats or advanced driver assistance systems, but that you didn’t activate when you bought the car. BMW has talked about this for a while, but it is now making this a reality. That means if you didn’t buy the heated seats and steering wheel, for example, your new BMW may now offer you a free three-month trial and you can then essentially buy a subscription for this feature for a set amount of time.

Image Credits: BMW

“We offer maximum flexibility and peace of mind to our customers when it comes to choosing and using their optional equipment in their BMWs, whether this BMW is new or used,” a company spokesperson said during today’s press event. “So flexible offers, immediate availability, simpler booking and easy usability for choice, at any time, when it comes to your optional equipment. We already started connectivity over 20 years ago and since 2014, we are online with our Connected Drive Store, where digital services can already be booked.”

Those were very much infotainment features, though. Now, BMW will let you enable vehicle functions and optional equipment on demand and over the air. The company started offering some features like active cruise control with stop and go functionality, a high beam assistant and access to the BMW IconicSounds Sport. The carmaker will add new features to this line-up over time.

Surprisingly, it’s often easier and cheaper for car manufacturers to build some hardware into cars, even if it is not activated, simply because it removes complexity from the production process. A lot of the features that BMW is talking about consist of a combination of software and hardware, though.

What’s new here is the ability to only subscribe to some features for a short time. “In the near future, we will not only be able to add more functions here, but we will also be able to add even more flexibility for our customers with temporary bookings so booking of options for three years, for one year, or even shorter periods of time, like a few months,” a spokesperson said.

Image Credits: BMW

The company also notes that this will give somebody who buys a used car a lot more flexibility, too. It’s worth noting that Apple CarPlay support was also originally a subscription feature in new BMWs, costing $80 a year. The company’s customers were not very happy about this, though, and the company reversed that decision last December. That really felt like nickel-and-diming drivers, though, since none of BMW’s competitors charged for this. It’ll be interesting to see how drivers will react to additional subscription services, but the focus now is more on convenience features that would usually be an option when you buy a new car, so my guess is that this will be less of an issue.

Among the other new and updated digital services the company showcased today is support for Apple’s new ‘Car Keys,’ which BMW brands as the BMW Digital Key, as well as an updated BMW Personal Assistant. Some of these new Assistant features are more cosmetic and about how it is showcased on the in-car display. But one nifty new Assistant feature here, for example, is a kind of IFTTT for your car, where you can easily program it to automatically roll down your windows when you enter your company’s parking garage, for example, so that you can easily scan your badge to open the boom gate.

Image Credits: BMW

Other updates include the new BMW Maps, the company’s built-in GPS system, which the company described as a ‘major leap.’ This cloud-based service can now find routes faster, has more granular traffic data and also includes the ability to find parking spaces for you — and that parking feature itself is based on a lot of work the company is doing in aggregating sensor data from across its fleet, which already covers and maps close to 99% of the German highway system once a day in HD.

Image Credits: BMW

Talking about maps, the company, which is still in the middle of the roll-out of its hybrid-electric vehicles, BMW also today announced that its hybrid fleet will make it easier for drivers to find charging stations and will automatically switch to electric driving when they enter low-emission zones in 80 European cities, with support for additional cities coming over time.

“Digital technologies belong to the core of BMW – because hardware and software are of
equal importance for premium cars,” said Oliver Zipse, the Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW. “Our mission is to integrate advanced digital technologies with highest product excellence to enhance our customers’ experience and driving pleasure even more.”

 

#assistant, #automotive, #bmw, #cars, #digital-services, #driver, #here, #maps, #munich, #operating-system, #personal-assistant

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Reliance Jio Platforms to sell additional $600 million stake to Silver Lake

Silver Lake is doubling down its bet on India’s Reliance Jio Platforms. The U.S. private equity firm said Friday it is buying an additional stake worth $600 million in the top Indian telecom operator, which has now raised $12.2 billion in less than two months — at the height of a global pandemic.

The Menlo Park-headquartered firm, which invested nearly $750 million in Reliance Jio Platforms last month, said the additional infusion increases its stake in the Indian firm to 2.08%, up from 1.15%.

Silver Lake’s new investment is now technically the seventh deal Reliance Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of India’s most valued firm (Reliance Industries), has secured in just as many weeks by selling nearly 20% stake. Earlier on Friday (local time), Abu Dhabi-based sovereign firm Mubadala said it would invest $1.2 billion in Jio, a firm run by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man.

Mr. Egon Durban, co-chief executive and managing partner at Silver Lake, said, the recent investment momentum in Reliance Jio Platforms “validates a compelling business model and underscores our admiration for Mukesh Ambani, his team and their courageous vision in creating and building one of the world’s most remarkable technology companies.”

“We are excited to increase our exposure and bring more of our co-investors into this opportunity, further supporting Jio Platforms in its mission to bring the power of high-quality and affordable digital services to a mass consumer and small businesses population,” he added.

Silver Lake manages nearly $40 billion in combined assets and committed capital and has invested in dozens of tech firms over the years including in video game engine maker Unity, audio and video communication service Skype, consultancy firm Gartner, Alibaba’s Ant Financial, computer giant Dell, and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.

More to follow…

#abu-dhabi, #alibaba, #ant-financial, #asia, #companies, #dell, #didi-chuxing, #digital-services, #funding, #india, #menlo-park, #mubadala, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio, #silver-lake, #united-states, #unity

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Audi launches high-tech car unit Artemis to fast-track a ‘pioneering’ EV to market

Audi has created a new business unit called Artemis to bring electric vehicles equipped with highly automated driving systems and other tech to market faster — the latest bid by the German automaker to become more agile and competitive.

The traditional automotive industry, where the design to start of production cycle might take five to seven years, has been grappling with how to bring new and innovative products to market more quickly to meet consumers’ fickle demands. The model is more akin to how Tesla or a consumer electronics company operates.

The first project under Artemis will be to “develop a pioneering model for Audi quickly and unbureaucratically,” Audi AG CEO Markus Duesmann said in a statement Friday. The unit is aiming to design and produce what Audi describes as a “highly efficient electric car” as early as 2024.

Artemis will be led by Alex Hitzinger, who was in charge of Audi’s Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID), the self-driving subsidiary that was launched in 2017 to develop autonomous vehicle technology for the VW Group. AID was absorbed into the European headquarters of Argo AI, a move that was made after VW invested $2.6 billion in capital and assets into the self-driving startup.

Hitzinger, who takes the new position beginning June 1, will report directly to Duesmann. Artemis will be based at the company’s tech hub of its INCampus in Ingolstadt, Germany.

Artemis is under the Audi banner. However, the aim is for this group’s work to benefit brands under its parent company VW Group. Hitzinger and the rest of his team will have access to resources and technologies within the entire Volkswagen Group . For instance, Car.Software, an independent business unit under the VW Group, will provide digital services to Artemis. The upshot: to create a blueprint that will make VW Group a more agile automaker able to bring new and technologically advanced vehicles to market more quickly.

VW Group plans to produce and sell 75 electric vehicle models across its brands by 2029, a group that includes VW passenger cars and Audi. The creation of Artemis hasn’t changed Audi’s plans to produce 20 new all-electric vehicles and 10 new plug-in hybrids by 2025.

“The obvious question was how we could implement additional high-tech benchmarks without jeopardizing the manageability of existing projects, and at the same time utilize new opportunities in the markets,” Duesmann said.

#audi, #audi-ag, #automotive, #cars, #digital-services, #electric-car, #germany, #self-driving-car, #tc, #tesla, #volkswagen, #volkswagen-group, #vw-group

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Can API vendors solve healthcare’s data woes?

A functioning healthcare system depends on caregivers having the right data at the right time to make the right decision about what course of treatment a patient needs.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic and the acceleration of the consumer adoption of telemedicine, along with the fragmentation of care to a number of different low-cost providers, access to a patient’s medical records to get an accurate picture of their health becomes even more important.

Opening access to developers also could unlock new, integrated services that could give consumers a better window into their own health and consumer product companies opportunities to develop new tools to improve health.

While hospitals, urgent care facilities and health systems have stored patient records electronically for years thanks to laws passed under the Clinton administration, those records were difficult for patients themselves to access. The way the system has been historically structured has made it nearly impossible for an individual to access their entire medical history.

It’s a huge impediment to ensuring that patients receive the best care they possibly can, and until now it’s been a boulder that companies have long tried to roll uphill, only to have it roll over them.

Now, new regulations are requiring that the developers of electronic health records can’t obstruct interoperability and access by applications. Those new rules may unlock a wave of new digital services.

At least that’s what companies like the New York-based startup Particle Health are hoping to see. The startup was founded by a former emergency medical technician and consultant, Troy Bannister, and longtime software engineer for companies like Palantir and Google, Dan Horbatt.

Particle Health is stepping into the breach with an API -based solution that borrows heavily from the work that Plaid and Stripe have done in the world of financial services. It’s a gambit that’s receiving support from investors including Menlo Ventures, Startup Health, Collaborative Fund, Story Ventures and Company Ventures, as well as angel investors from the leadership of Flatiron Health, Clover Health, Plaid, Petal and Hometeam.

Image via Getty Images / OstapenkoOlena

“My first reaction when I met Troy, and he was describing what they’re doing, was that it couldn’t be done,” said Greg Yap, a partner with Menlo Ventures, who leads the firm’s life sciences investments. “We’ve understood how much of a challenge and how much of a tax the lack of easy portability of data puts on the healthcare system, but the problem has always felt like there are so many obstacles that it is too difficult to solve.”

What convinced Yap’s firm, Menlo Ventures, and the company’s other backers, was an ability to provide both data portability and privacy in a way that put patients’ choice at the center of how data is used and accessed, the investor said.

“[A service] has to be portable for it to be useful, but it has to be private for it to be well-used,” says Yap. 

The company isn’t the first business to raise money for a data integration service. Last year, Redox, a Madison, Wis.-based developer of API services for hospitals, raised $33 million in a later-stage round of funding. Meanwhile, Innovaccer, another API developer, has raised more than $100 million from investors for its own take.

Each of these companies is solving a different problem that the information silos in the medical industry presents, according to Patterson. “Their integrations are focused one-to-one on hospitals,” he said. Application developers can use Redox’s services to gain access to medical records from a particular hospital network, he explained. Whereas using Particle Health’s technology, developers can get access to an entire network.

“They get contracts and agreements with the hospitals. We go up the food chain and get contracts with the [electronic medical records],” said Patterson.

One of the things that’s given Particle Health a greater degree of freedom to acquire and integrate with existing healthcare systems is the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016. That law required that the providers of electronic medical records like Cerner and EPIC had to remove any roadblocks that would keep patient data siloed. Another is the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, which was just enacted in the past month.

“We don’t like betting on companies that require a change in law to become successful,” said Yap of the circumstances surrounding Particle’s ability to leapfrog well-funded competitors. But the opportunity to finance a company that could solve a core problem in digital healthcare was too compelling.

“What we’re really saying is that consumers should have access to their medical records,” he said.

Isometric Healthcare and technology concept banner. Medical exams and online consultation concept. Medicine. Vector illustration

This access can make consumer wearables more useful by potentially linking them — and the health data they collect — with clinical data used by physicians to actually make care and treatment decisions. Most devices today are not clinically recognized and don’t have any real integration into the healthcare system. Access to better data could change that on both sides.

“Digital health application might be far more effective if it can take into context information in the medical record today,” said Yap. “That’s one example where the patient will get much greater impact from the digital health applications if the digital health applications can access all of the information that the medical system collected.” 

With the investment, which values Particle Health at roughly $48 million, Bannister and his team are looking to move aggressively into more areas of digital healthcare services.

“Right now, we’re focusing on telemedicine,” said Bannister. “We’re moving into the payer space… As it stands today we’re really servicing the third parties that need the records. Our core belief is that patients want control of their data but they don’t want the stewardship.”

The company’s reach is impressive. Bannister estimates that Particle Health can hit somewhere between 250 and 300 million of the patient records that have been generated in the U.S. “We have more or less solved the fragmentation problem. We have one API that can pull information from almost everywhere.”

So far, Particle Health has eight live contracts with telemedicine and virtual health companies using its API, which have pulled 1.4 million patient records to date.

The way it works right now, when you give them permission to access your data it’s for a very specific purpose of use… they can only use it for that one thing. Let’s say you were using a telemedicine service. I allow this doctor to view my records for the purpose of treatment only. After that we have built a way for you to revoke access after the point,” Bannister said.

Particle Health’s peers in the world of API development also see the power in better, more open access to data. “A lot of money has been spent and a lot of blood and sweat went into putting [electronic medical records] out there,” said Innovaccer chief digital officer Mike Sutten.

The former chief technology officer of Kaiser Permanente, Sutten knows healthcare technology. “The next decade is about ‘let’s take advantage of all of this data.’ Let’s give back to physicians and give them access to all that data and think about the consumers and the patients,” Sutten said.

Innovaccer is angling to provide its own tools to centralize data for physicians and consumers. “The less friction there is in getting that data extracted, the more benefit we can provide to consumers and clinicians,” said Sutten.

Already, Particle Health is thinking about ways its API can help application developers create tools to help with the management of COVID-19 populations and potentially finding ways to ease the current lockdowns in place due to the disease’s outbreak.

“If you’ve had an antibody test or PCR test in the past… we should have access to that data and we should be able to provide that data at scale,” said Bannister. 

“There’s probably other risk-indicating factors that could at least help triage or clear groups as well… has this person been quarantined has this person been to the hospital in the past month or two… things like that can help bridge the gap,” between the definitive solution of universal testing and the lack of testing capacity to make that a reality, he said. 

“We’re definitely working on these public health initiatives,” Bannister said. Soon, the company’s technology — and other services like it — could be working behind the scenes in private healthcare initiatives from some of the nation’s biggest companies as software finally begins to take bigger bites out of the consumer health industry.

#api, #cerner, #chief-digital-officer, #chief-technology-officer, #collaborative-fund, #digital-healthcare, #digital-services, #disease, #financial-services, #flatiron-health, #getty-images, #google, #greg-yap, #health, #health-care, #health-systems, #healthcare-technology, #innovaccer, #kaiser-permanente, #madison, #menlo-ventures, #new-york, #palantir, #partner, #practice-fusion, #primary-care, #redox, #software-engineer, #startup-health, #story-ventures, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states, #wisconsin

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5G is now live in 24 markets, GSMA predicts it’ll be 20% of global connections by 2025 — and eyes a big tech break-up

The next-gen flavor of mobile connectivity, 5G, is now live in 24 markets globally, per global mobile industry association the GSMA — which has just published its annual state of the global mobile economy report.

The cutting edge network tech is capable of supporting speeds up to 100x faster than LTE/4G and delivering latency of just a few milliseconds, as well as being able to connect many more devices per cell site — which means that, as it rolls out, it’s expected to underpin a new wave of ‘smarter’ digital services which bake in real-time AI assistance and help drive the digitization of legacy industries.

In last year’s report the carrier association didn’t break out a firm figure for markets where 5G is live — but dubbed the tech “a reality” after commercial launches in the US and South Korea towards the end of 2018. It also said it was expecting 16 more “major countries” to have launched 5G networks by the end of 2019.

It’s now touting “significant traction” for 5G — saying 79 operators across a further 39 markets had announced plans to launch commercial 5G services as of January 20, 2020. 

As it stands actual 5G connections remain a fraction of the connectivity pie vs current (4G) and previous gen cellular favors. Per the report, 4G became the dominant mobile tech globally in 2019 — with over 4BN connections, accounting for 52% of total connections (excluding licensed cellular IoT).

The GSMA expects 4G connections to continue to grow for the next few years, peaking at just under 60% of global connections by 2023.

For 5G its forecast is that it will account for a fifth (20%) of global connections by 2025, with the carrier association expecting “particularly strong” take-up across developed Asia, North America and Europe.

(For wider context, almost half of the global population (3.8BN people) are now users of the mobile internet as a whole (2G-5G), per the report — which is forecast to grow to 61% (5BN people) by 2025.)

It’s worth emphasizing that the presence of 5G in a market does not mean universal coverage.

On the contrary, 5G rollouts have tended to be targeted on urban centers. Which means 5G availability in the 24 markets that have launched commercial networks so far is likely highly limited vs population. There are also still relatively few 5G smartphones vs non-5G handsets (though since this time last year more are being unboxed; Sony, for example, just announced its first 5G handsets).

Perhaps, most importantly, consumer demand for the next-gen flavor of connectivity has yet to be robustly stood up. The GSMA’s report poses the (existential, for telcos) question of: “Will they pay for it?”

The number of live 5G markets is increasing by the day and consumers’ awareness of the technology is also growing as hype makes way for reality. However, there is wide variation across the globe in terms of intentions to upgrade to 5G and the willingness to pay more for it,” it concedes.

“In general, consumers in South Korea and China – having witnessed some of the earliest launches – appear to be the most excited by the prospect of upgrading to 5G, while those in the US, Europe and Japan seem more content with 4G for the time being,” the GSMA adds, before striking an upbeat note: “5G is still in its infancy though; as more tangible use cases are deployed, more consumers will appreciate the benefits of 5G.”

Aka, 5G needs a killer app. But one has yet to emerge. (Edit note: A global pandemic that triggers a mass transition to remote working and virtualized socializing could have potential though. After all, concerns about the corona virus did force the GSMA to cancel its own annual shindig, MWC, just last month.)

Despite the report’s prediction that consumers will, down the line, be sold on 5G’s “benefits” another graphic in the report maps out the current reality — that “awareness of 5G does not necessarily translate into an intention to upgrade”.

It shows adults in markets including the UK, Australia, Spain and Italy having high awareness of the tech but low intent to pay for 5G, with less than 35% saying they want to upgrade. The US market also has a similarly high level of awareness of 5G — and only a slightly higher intention to upgrade (~40%+). 

The GSMA writes that more needs to be done by carriers to “raise awareness” of other “benefits” than just higher data speeds, touting claimed advantages such as “improved mobile service coverage”, “innovative new services” and “connectivity for previously unconnected devices” as having 5G marketing potential.

However, on the latter point at least, the report also chronicles variable and often low appetite — certainly outside China — for a range of ‘smart’ devices…

Still, the GSMA predicts billions more IoT devices will be coming on stream over the next five years — saying that between 2019 and 2025 the number of global IoT connections will more than double to almost 25 billion, while it expects global IoT revenue to more than triple to $1.1 trillion.

Another segment of the report deals with the perennial issue of stagnant operator revenue growth vs Internet companies, with the GSMA noting telcos continue to lag tech giants and major device makers.

For many operators, revenue growth as a percentage is in the low single digits, if that,” it writes. “As core telecoms revenue stagnates, a common strategy now for major operator groups is to seek revenue growth from adjacent services. Pay TV, media, IoT, enterprise solutions and the broader array of digital services still only account for a minor share of operator revenues (10–20% for most), although there are a few notable exceptions, largely enabled by M&A activity.”

It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that top of the GSMA’s 2025 prediction/wish-list is a bold one that one of the GAFA companies (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) will be broken up. (It makes not suggestion of which — though plenty of American eyes are now on Google.)

Other near-term hopes on the GSMA’s list are that “AR eye glasses reach the mass market with a form factor from at least one global OEM”; health wearables become “part of the solution to overburdened public health systems”; and “private enterprise networks explode and become a battleground between telcos and cloud companies” (we don’t think they mean explode literally). 

There’s also another 2025 prediction for 5G — that the technology becomes “the first generation in the history of mobile to have a bigger impact on enterprise than consumers”.

Which is certainly one way to silver-line a low-demand ‘cloud’ and hedge (hopefully) for business buy-in to make up for lacklustre consumer desire to pay more to do the same stuff slightly faster* (*depending on network conditions). 

Governments and regulators must play their part to help propel 5G into commercial use by implementing policies that encourage advanced technologies (e.g. AI and IoT) to be applied across all economic sectors,” the GSMA writes elsewhere in the report — a call to action that aligns exactly with policy priorities recently set out by the new European Commission, suggesting telco lobbying in Brussels has borne fruit

Thierry Breton, the Commissioner for internal market — who’s now driving a pan-EU strategy to encourage the pooling and reuse of industrial data that leans heavily on the deployment of what’s he’s called “critical” 5G networks — is also a former chairman and CEO of France Telecom.

You can download the full GSMA report here.

#5g, #digital-services, #gsma, #internet-of-things, #mobile, #mobile-internet, #smartphones, #telecommunications

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