Ogloba is a processor of non-banking transactions – and the company is poised to take advantage of the major changes ahead for this type of activity.
The company has been active in the region for well over a decade, and coordinates its Middle East operations from Dubai.
Much of its current business centres on mobile top-ups, which might involve, at the smallest end of the scale, an end-user in Saudi Arabia visiting a “mom-and-pop” store for a top-up.
Ogloba also deals with operations at the other end of the scale in terms of size, and numbers well-known organisations such as Du and the Majid Al Futtaim Retail – Carrefour operation as clients.
The pre-paid market in the Middle East is, says Arnaud de Harenne, Ogloba Middle East’s general manager, worth about $8 billion annually. Indeed, in the region’s largest market, Saudi Arabia, top-ups still account for 80 percent of mobile phone turnover.
However, in some other markets, such as Europe, prepaid now has a market share of only about five to 15 percent, depending upon the country, and there is a general trend to postpaid at the expense of prepaid.
As a result, payment methods are being “reinvented” with a move
towards digital wallets that can be used to top up a mobile phone, but that can also be used to pay for other goods. They could, for example, be used to buy music on iTunes or – one of their most important potential uses – to purchase discounted shopping cards at major retailers.
“That’s the second part of the business – to issue the shopping
card. We do that for the large retailers in the region,” said De Harenne. Until now, the gift cards business has primarily been a B2B (business-to-business) market in which loyalty programme managers for, say, food-and-beverage [F&B] companies, would buy cards in bulk and offer them to their members. The move to digital wallets has opened up new opportunities for companies such as Ogloba.
“We’re adding a ‘C’ [consumer] component to the B2B. The B2B
becomes B2B2C. You have to be a member to access these cards,” said De Harenne.
He says that Ogloba has experienced “massive growth” with such programmes in Asian countries including China, Thailand and Indonesia. “These kinds of programmes have been plugged to the loyalty programmes of large employers, F&B companies and digital wallets,” said De Harenne.
Ogloba is now starting its first programme with two large employers in the UAE and is also involved in an initiative with STC Pay, the digital secure wallet of the Saudi Arabian telecommunications operator STC.
“Shopping cards are moving to digital so there will be an increase
in volume,” said De Harenne, who added that they could be used by large employers to reward staff members, or by companies that want to reward agents.