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Value Added Services on public payphones: promising business cases!

By Olivier Penel, Ascom Monetel

Market survey: exploiting a gold mine
Ascom recently carried out a market survey of street payphone usage on a representative set of its customers, from developing countries as well as mobile-dominated industrialised countries.

Unlike ordinary surveys, Ascom has mostly used the gold mine contained in Payphone Management System statistics.

The conclusions of this survey strongly confirm Ascom’s vision: “Make payphones evolve to offer Value Added Services“.

Coin vs Card
Payment convenience is the first criterion of success for any type of payphone service. Coin is obviously the most common means of payment found in street user’s pockets.

Figures show that coin traffic represents the largest number of calls with 65% to 75%. However, in most selected statistics, coin revenue accounts for only 50 %. Moreover, a simulation of the coin handling costs (investment, cashbox emptying, availability closer to 90 % rather than 98-99 % for card payphones) and extra revenues for cards (prepayment, advertising, collections….) drops profit to 40 % for coins vs 60 % for cards, and even closer to 70 % when credit cards are proposed.

Moreover, cards open opportunities to user-personalised services, which coins do not.

Cards are more than a means of payment

Ascom measured that good results with card revenues (e.g. 200-300 USD a month on average for an average-density payphone population) are obtained where precise business operations are managed as follows:

  • Tune level of service to payphone location, i.e. means of payment in relation to fraud attempts, location-based promotions, proximity of card distribution kiosks...
  • Follow-up of card distribution, using powerful Management System to check the circulation and use of each card series.
  • Credit card segment appears very profitable in most concerned countries: 2 to 4 % of traffic brings 14 to 18 % of the revenue.
  • Where electronic purse is widespread, up to 25 % of the calls are achieved with this means of payment.
  • Advertise promotions according to locations and card series, e.g. using the large display of the payphone itself when the user is using the terminal.
In addition, cards can carry all necessary information for quick and simple use of Value Added Services.

Value Added Services
The biggest surprise in Ascom’s survey concerns revenue per call.

Despite the fact that traffic per payphone varies in huge proportions from almost zero in the countryside to confidential summits in airports or hospitals, PMS detailed analysis has shown that, for a given country, the expense per call is very stable from one location to another whatever the average traffic of the payphone.

It means that a kind of constant “Service value” is allocated to the payphone service, whatever its location.

This “Service value” will probably also be the psychological level of acceptance for Value Added Services.

Value Added Services (VAS) really boost revenues, from simple phone calls to more complex but very profitable business cases:

  • Simplest VAS concern only payphone operators: “Who wants to be a millionaire” game or lotteries mainly use specific card series dedicated to calling these services and bringing the same type of revenue as basic voice calls.
  • Intermediate VAS, such as Messaging services (send SMS or short emails, read email through voice synthesis platforms) add revenue in keeping or even attracting new young populations not used to payphones.
  • At last, E-Top-Up service deployments, consisting of reloading mobile prepaid cards from payphones with suitable mean of payment (E-purse, credit card, or even coins) largely exceed 2 figure percentage points of revenue. Because payphones are usually far more numerous than any other public access terminals (e.g. ATMs), this business opportunity is worth building up revenues partnerships with Mobile networks, adding electronic Point of Sales compared to usual printed vouchers from distribution circuits.
Many other applications may be proposed trough the latest range of Ascom payphones (eXANTO family), enabling users to access from anywhere multiple services from voice calls to VAS with various means of payment.

eXANTO Payphone Family - One Platform to meet every need
More than 25 years’ experience has provided Ascom Multimedia & Pay Systems with an in-depth knowledge of the payphone market. Over the years, Ascom MPS has installed more than 1 million payphones in numerous countries throughout the world (including Mexico, Egypt, Vietnam, Denmark, France, China, Kenya, and Singapore). Thanks to continuous product development and a thorough understanding of the thriving payphone market and demanding environmental conditions, we are able to provide operators with a new generation of payphones, the eXANTO platform, that not only meet today’s requirements but are also flexible enough to adapt to those of tomorrow.

The eXANTO platform – the formula for payphone success
The eXANTO platform represents the latest range of versatile payphone terminals from Ascom and has been designed to provide end-users with nothing but the best in a wide range of quality services, and to offer operators a maximum return on investments.

Whatever the technology (PSTN or Wireless), payment method (cards or a combination of coins and cards), the eXANTO platform has been developed with common electronics and software modules. All eXANTO versions incorporate a modular design and have been built for robustness, reliability, and resistance to all kinds of environmental conditions. Thanks to a powerful 32-bit processor, the eXANTO payphone meets new IT network requirements, accepts new means of payment (EMV credit card, e-purse,…) among others. With all these improvements to our new range of payphones, cost of ownership has never looked more attractive.

eXANTO - a service-oriented payphone
The eXANTO platform anticipates the evolution of payphones as entry IT kiosk. It provides not only for basic voice calls but also for access to a wide range of profitable new services (Value Added Services) from anywhere, at any time. To deliver these functions, the Man-Machine Interface of the eXANTO platform has been greatly enhanced by providing the user with a large, full graphic screen and service keys. In addition, communication between the payphones and the payphone management system (PMS) or application servers is based on a standard TCP/IP protocol. eXANTO payphones are therefore ready to tap into an increasing number of profit oriented applications and Value Added Services such as SMS, e-mail, games, lotteries, mobile prepaid card reloading, banking applications, e-purse reloading and numerous local services. And remember, with a payphone terminal, services are available 24 hours/day! By ensuring these multiple benefits, we at Ascom are simply fulfilling our ongoing commitment towards operators to develop world-leading solutions in terms of smooth functioning, reliability – and profitability.

For more information, please contact:
Olivier Penel: olivier.penel@ascom.fr

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