Meet the Team – Colin Simpson, Head of Finance
26 November 2021
Tell us about your background and how you came to work at SLA Digital.
I began my career in accounting 30 years ago – which seems like an awfully long time! I started off working for an engineering company as a trainee accountant and I was with them for 10 years. I then moved on to an IT services provider as financial controller and this company was purchased by SLA Digital, then known as SLA Mobile, in 2005. I’ve been with SLA Digital ever since and moved into the role of Head of Finance in 2018.
What is your current role and what do you enjoy most about it?
My current role is Head of Finance so I am responsible for the overall financial management of SLA Digital and I enjoy the variety that the role has to offer. I also enjoy being a member of the senior management team and having the opportunity to contribute to development and delivery of the strategy to secure the long-term growth of SLA Digital.
What significant changes have you seen in the carrier billing industry over the last few years?
The Covid-19 pandemic has generated a number of new business opportunities for direct carrier billing. Rising demand for subscription-based digital content has been a major factor in the growth and overall the carrier billing industry is expected to grow by a CAGR of 10%-15% per annum from 2021 to 2028. So huge growth is evident and I think a lot of that has been driven initially by people seeking entertainment at home. I also predict it is set to continue for the next 5 or 6 years.
Do you have any advice for mobile operators to help boost their revenues with carrier billing and increase ARPU?
Carrier billing is the quickest way for mobile phone users to buy apps and digital content and it allows mobile operators to deliver premium content to both existing subscribers and new subscribers. Partnering with an aggregator like SLA Digital can help mobile operators reduce cost, risk and time to market. We bring mobile operators our catalogue of merchants, which means they can gain instant access to services, avoiding time-consuming negotiations and ultimately driving revenues and leading to increased ARPU.
What do you think is the key to achieving sustainable revenue growth with carrier billing?
While there has been a growth in revenue during the pandemic, over the same period there has also been a growth in fraud within the industry. I think addressing the fraud will reduce the risks with carrier billing, this can be done for example by using advanced machine learning to identify potential fraud. If you can illuminate the fraud and remove the risk then you will certainly drive revenue, and this will lead to sustainable growth going forward.
How does SLA Digital help partners monitor and forecast revenue and understand their revenue drivers?
We have developed some good data analytics through QuickSight which is a data analytics tool from Amazon Web Services. We offer trend reports for both mobile operators and merchants that report revenues by content type and geographical markets. We can also provide transaction volumes and revenues from every merchant by subscriber, all through customizable dashboards, to put mobile operators and merchants in control of their carrier billing revenue.
What are the benefits of SLA Digital’s revenue share business model for mobile operators?
The revenue share model enables mobile operators to generate new revenue opportunities, all with reduced costs and risk. SLA Digital manage the entire process and through partnering with us they can easily access our growing portfolio of merchants, including popular gaming and streaming services, to offer more to their subscribers and drive a higher ARPU.
How important do you feel carrier billing is in offering financial inclusion to unbanked markets globally?
Carrier billing allows content providers to offer their services to emerging markets where a large proportion of the population are unbanked. SLA Digital facilitates this by partnering with mobile operators in regions like APAC and the Middle East, where not everyone but a high proportion of the population just doesn’t have access to a bank account or debit or credit card. Direct carrier billing is one payment option that they are able to use, so it is has a very important role to play in financial inclusion.
Do you think it’s important for digital content providers to adjust and localise their pricing for different markets in order to maximise revenue?
The answer is yes. If content providers want to be competitive in the local market they do need to look at their pricing. The pricing needs to take into account the local economic conditions, their competitors’ pricing, and user demand. Setting the correct price will require detailed analysis but if it’s done right it will lead to long-term growth.
What do you see as next in the evolution of mobile payments?
The use of digital wallets is growing rapidly, especially in the APAC region. They offer users an easy-to-use payment method with just a click and pay. While carrier billing will remain a popular option I think digital wallets could stand alongside it, and I can see that being an important player in mobile payments.
Do you think we are heading towards a cashless society and what role will carrier billing have to play?
I don’t know if we will ever go to a cashless society but I can certainly see a scenario where we will continue to see more mobile payment and carrier billing growth, leading to a reduction in the use of credit cards and cash. I don’t think cash will ever go away completely but I can certainly see it becoming less and less as time goes forward.