How Telcos and E-Wallets Can Synergise to Unlock New Opportunities

Despite 97% of the world’s population having access to mobile cellular signals, the mobile industry is stagnating. GSMA intelligence predicts that global mobile revenues will stabilise at USD 1.1 trillion beyond 2020. McKinsey projected that Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) would only be 0.7% for 2020. Why is this so?

Telcos around the world are struggling to capture revenue from their core services such as calls and text messaging with the emergence of free call and text messaging apps. Telcos responded by undercutting prices of phone plans to retain customers, which puts immense pressure on telco earnings.

Meanwhile, while the digital payment space is currently booming, especially in Asia, it is not without huge challenges. The payments market is highly fragmented with various players racing to be in a position of dominance. The highly competitive marketplace is putting pressure on players, who will need to rethink their strategic objectives and monetization strategies to survive and thrive.

Apigate has strong relationship with telcos in the ASEAN region and have enabled multiple beneficial partnerships. From our extensive experience, these are the benefits and opportunities that one can look forward to.


Partnerships with key players is a way forward to create new value propositions and tap into adjacent markets. In this regard, mobile operators are finding a natural synergy with e-wallet platforms that dovetail with social trends.

According to a research paper by LivePerson, the digital habits of Gen Z and Millennial show that the phone is the new wallet. The study found that 61.8% of global consumers ages 18–34 would rather leave their wallets at home than their phones.

Thus, a strong partnership between telcos and payment gateways such as e-wallets could not only unlock huge business opportunities for both industries, it will also benefit users who will be able to find it more convenient to perform various payment functions and other financial transactions.

Possible scenarios and benefits

The synergy between the two industries would bring a number of benefits to all parties. Let’s look at some of the benefits it holds for e-wallets first.

Firstly, by integrating with a telco, payment providers would be able to tap into the operator’s vast resource of big data and customer analytics. This will be mutually invaluable for both parties to gain new insights into the market and customer behaviour. Secondly, integrating with a telco will create greater potential for expanding the e-wallet’s customer base. The combined benefits offered by this partnership anticipates higher retention and lower churn. Thirdly, there is a huge opportunity to tap into underserved markets, such as rural areas where people may find difficulty accessing financial services. E-wallets can play a role to help people create bank accounts without physically going to a bank.

Now let’s look at how it can benefit telcos.

First, telcos would be able to leverage their existing communications networks and customer base to provide a broader range of services. Naturally, this will translate into vast potential for new revenue for a relatively small effort. Second, by offering more choice of services such as e-wallet functionality, telcos are creating a rich portfolio of digital services. Building up an ecosystem that is able to serve customers in all areas of their life will support customer retention as customers who are invested in the platform would find it less desirable to switch later. Thirdly, this can also provide underserved people who do not have access to banks or who are not willing to deal with complex bank procedures a viable alternative. Naturally, this would expand the customer base for the ecosystem which would benefit all parties involved.

According to a study by Juniper Research, the total number of people using digital wallets is going to increase from 2.3 billion to nearly 4 billion by the year 2024. This increase in the number of users will also increase the transaction values by over 80%.

With the complementary characteristics of telcos and payment gateways, there is a unique opportunity at this point in time to create new synergies to drive new growth in both industries.

Apigate has rich experience in enabling the seamless integration between mobile operators and e-wallets, as well as other platforms such as OTT content providers. Talk to us about how we can help mobile operators and e-wallets tap into new opportunities to target and convert potential new customers across Asia.