MEF Asia develops successful strategic collaboration with Asian Carrier Conference

Linda RuckMEF Asia recently hosted its first set of events in the Philippines in collaboration with the Asian Carriers’ Conference (ACC), an event which draws Telcos and delegates from around the globe to sunny Cebu. With organisers, Philippine Long Distance Company, keen to develop the breadth of content for their event, this was the first collaboration of its kind with an industry association. The programme provided MEF members with some great benefits including delegate discounts, speaking opportunities and provided a backdrop for some fantastic networking in a fast paced growth market. MEF Asia General Manager Linda Ruck was there.

A nation renowned for its world class hospitality, the ACC team organized an impressive event for over 1,400 guests from 45 countries. Featuring a non-stop schedule of events around the conference, from charity fun runs and golf trips to themed dinners, these additional events further enhanced an already great networking opportunity.

The Philippines archipelago of 7,107 islands is the 7th most populous country in Asia with the 12th largest total population in the world. Like many newly industrialized countries, visitors to the Philippines may see extreme wealth and poverty alongside each other in what can be striking for both jaded travelers and newcomers to Asia.

With more than 100 million potential customers, the Philippines is a fiercely competitive and price sensitive market. Competition in telecoms is especially tough, with nine Telcos battling for market share. The market is predominately a prepaid market with consumers able to top up from as little as 15 Pesos (less than 0.34 cents).

MEF MixerMEF’s first event, the MEF Mixer, held at the beautiful Crimson Resort and Spa, proved to be a rather elegant affair. Set amid a stunning garden setting overlooking the ocean, members and invited guests watched the sun set while enjoying great conversation, free flowing cocktails and canapés at an intimate affair. Thirty five members and guests from more than ten countries attended the pre-dinner cocktail reception including: Maxis, Sun Cellular, Smart, IX, Telecom Malaysia, vserv, Silverstreet, and several influential media representatives including Telecom Asia.

In Asia, business is all about relationships and the Mixer provided a perfect platform for MEF members to mingle and connect with local and international industry representatives and forge new business connections and opportunities.

A warm welcome was provided by MEF Asia Chairman, Colin Miles who gave an overview of MEF regional and global objectives and was followed by an introduction to the Thai market by our official sponsor and representative Mr Geng Gittipob of Mono Technology PCL. An early start the next morning ensured many of us didn’t venture to the beach and dance the night away at the ‘Disco Wednesday’ night hosted by ACC!

image-mefThe next day at ACC MEF hosted a thought leadership panel showcasing industry veterans and up and coming startups in the mobile content and commerce space. The Telcos are in a period of  transition as they look at ways to continue to make revenue and address the challenge from OTT players. A recent Ovum report estimated telcos are set to lose more than $32 billion in 2013. With that in mind, MEF delved into this hot topic with the panel “If you can’t beat them, JOYN them?!” moderated by Colin Miles, examining in detail the side-winding impact of social messaging apps on mobile operators.

“Operator guys, you’ve got to react faster,” said Thomas Clayton, CEO of Bubbly. Other industry representatives on the panel included. Ricky Pena, SUN Cellular Vice President & concurrent Head of OTT Communications at Voyager Innovations, Geng Gittipob of Mono Technology PCL, Oscar Veronese of InternetQ and Junde Yu from App Annie. The panelists agreed this was an entertaining and informative knowledge sharing session.

MEF’s second panel of the week was titled “The Future of m-commerce”, posing the question – is mobile really the key? Feature panelists included Thibaud Savoure of TransferTo, Rey Cruz from Paymentwall and Mitch Padua, of Smart Communications who between them provided informed local and international perspectives.

An incredibly complex market, the Philippines is one of the most advanced mobile money markets in the world, pre-dating even Kenya’s m-pesa and tracing its origins as far back as 2000. With ten million Filipinos’ living outside the country, it is the second largest recipient of money transfers in Asia accounting for billions of dollars and, perhaps most amazingly, almost 9% of the GDP according to the world bank.

The MEF panel encouraged some heated debate and good interaction with the audience. As the session finished, the afternoon provided yet further networking and business building opportunities. MEF Asia had successfully ventured into a new market for the benefit of its members, further advancing the mobile content and commerce community.

After four challenging but rewarding days in Cebu, we waved goodbye to the goats outside the front gate of the hotel and headed for the airport. Pencil next year’s event in your diary and do join MEF for the 10th Annual Asian Carrier Conference in Cebu, Philippines.

Linda Ruck is General Manager for MEF Asia, follow her on Twitter.

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