"Live Meeting Recap"

               The fact that the global economic growth is taking an enormous toll due to the pandemic is indisputable and the changes occurred are definitely apparent worldwide. Nevertheless, our association has held an online live meeting regarding whether this disastrous incident has been a Booster or a Sinner for Value Added Services and has divulged us about the insights of some of the industry’s leading businessmen on the impact of COVID-19 on the VAS and Digital Services in addition with how this pandemic has made any altercations mainly in the Myanmar Market.

               First and foremost, our panelists are from the prestigious Digital and VAS giants, Comviva, IMI Mobile and TIMWE Tech. Comviva, a subsidiary of Tech Mahindra and a part of the $21 billion Mahindra Group, is basically a leading global mobility solution providers to mobile operators and financial institutions worldwide whose main goal is to work with telecom operators providing mobility solutions. IMI Mobile is a communications software provider enabling enterprises to automate digital customer communications and interactions to improve customer experience and reduce operating costs. Lastly, TIMWE Tech is a global tech solution company, selling services throughout 80 countries to telcos, enterprise companies, media and marketing agencies while having 3 core types of business lines, B2B and B2C platforms for the telcos, Digital Marketing Solution and Services, and Fintech.

            Starting off, our panelists revealed the state of various categories of the VAS Services prior to the pandemic. Growing at a rapid pace, VAS services such as VOD, SVOD, OTT video services and M-commerce have stood out in terms of customer engagement and other VAS-related products like E-conferencing tools are gradually catching up as well. Moreover, the tremendous growth in different categories during the pandemic period has made our panelists believe that COVID-19 has had a positive effect on the VAS Industry, especially in Entertainment and Content-Based sectors.

            For instance, according to the panelists, there has been a 41% increase in the consumption of gaming services, an overall 34% growth for OTT services, and a surprising 30% proliferation in the number of subscriptions in Netflix individually that are all part of the Entertainment category of the VAS Services. Additionally, in terms of Content-Based sectors, mind-blowing details such as a 61% spike in the usage of Media-related apps and the trend of spending an average extent of 30 minutes per visit to a News-related platform by consumers in lockdown, were revealed during the live session.

             Besides, other categories namely E-commerce, Online Health Services, and E-Learning services have also grown by leaps and bounds. This means that previously undermined products have now come into highlight amid this pandemic period and proved to be game changers particularly in terms of education for students whose schools have unfortunately closed down. On the other hand, while there are advancements for various categories, our panelists have also shared their opinions on certain sectors that have suffered a major blow. With almost the majority of countries in lockdown, it is obvious that the hotel industry, travel-related services, the retail industry and various car rental services such as Grab and Uber have had an immense downfall with their customer engagement as citizens are expected to stay home safely as a protective measure for the dreadful virus.

               Diving deeper into the online discussion, our panelists continued to talk about the impact on the Myanmar Market concerning these VAS Providers. Although Myanmar has a diverse mixture of traditional services, the panelists claimed that the VAS Industry faced a slight decline in terms of revenues during COVID-19 due to several reasons. One of them includes the low awareness of consumers for these VAS-related services and most of the time, people lack of understanding of how to properly and efficiently implement these services for their own personal developments. In addition, rules and regulations of Myanmar have also played a vital role in the contribution of the VAS services as stated by the panelists. However, certain premium VAS products, for instance, online food delivery services, social media applications, OTT Video services, digital and contactless payments and e-commerce services have become an upward trend among the citizens of Myanmar.

               The discussion of the challenges of these impacts follows after thoughts about the VAS services in the Myanmar Market. The first major barrier stands particularly for people who are not tech-savvy which means these type of people have been forced to come in touch with “Technology” while it is also essential for them to get ahead of the curve in terms of self-updating and be also educationally aware at the same time. Secondly, this pandemic has set up obstacles for people residing in rural areas to overcome. For example, it would be a little hard to imagine young students and teenagers adapting to new technology-based services like e-learning from a rural perspective.

               Last but not the least, our members in the panel discussion had a little debate over their future insights about the Digital Services after the global pandemic is over. While it can be assumed that the majority of currently popular VAS services such as those in the entertainment sector will continue to prosper even after the pandemic ends, it can be argued that the consumption rate for the services will decline compared to that during the pandemic period mainly because the main reason for the dramatic rise in the number of consumers is due to the fact that people at various ages are under lockdown all over the world with an ample amount of time to spend on such services.

              All in all, our panelists have concluded that the impact of this pandemic is positive looking from a digital point of view and as a result, it has pushed the majority of us to change our way of living, up taking these challenges into opportunities. Overall, the Digital and VAS Industry, as a whole, have to focus on solving the needs of consumers during this tough period. However, it is crucial to note that the faster Digital and VAS services can adapt to the constantly-changing human needs according to the behavior changes, the more they will be able to prosper and triumph.

Myanmar Digital Contents Association

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