Traditional voice wholesale operator idt routes millions of international Telecom minutes daily but president of carrier services, nick ford, and cmo, ben Hirsch, highlight how its unique dual wholesale-retail proposition is bringing More opportunities to the carrier industry through its foreign-born customers
Most people within the telecoms space associate IDT Corporation as one of the leading providers of international voice termination. But most would be surprised to hear that it started out life by providing an international calling service through VoIP back in 1992. As its retail customer base grew, so did its direct connects as the organisation needed to terminate their calling service in more destinations. Before long, its reach was global and this became the backbone of its wholesale carrier business the industry knows today. With some 600 direct connects between mobile and fixed-line operators, and billions of retail minutes generated annually, IDT represents unique buy and sell opportunities for the global wholesale carrier market.
Hirsch, who has been CMO at IDT for just over five years, says BOSS Revolution is a prime example of how IDT’s innovation can boost customer choice. “BOSS Revolution delivers communication and payment services that allow foreign-born customers to stay in touch and share financial resources with their friends and family around the world,” he says. It’s an online portal facilitating communication and eMoney services. Our pinless communication service means retailers, such as the 50,000 US outlets that sell it, no longer need hardcard stock on their shelves and it “has struck a real chord with immigrant populations across the world because of our ‘NO PIN, NO Fees, No Expiration’ promise”. 10 million unique customers use its services every year, which “means we touch one in four foreign-born citizens in the US population”. “As it became a trusted brand, BOSS Revolution has added international mobile top-ups and global money transfer services, the latter of which the firm has 49 licences across the US,” Hirsch adds.
Although the retailer is its stronghold distribution capability, services are also offered across the website portal, in-store kiosks, voice portals and now mobile applications. The BOSS Revolution app has been downloaded over four million times. “BOSS Revolution will stand alongside OTT services but will clearly differentiate itself by really addressing the communications and financial needs of those wanting to stay in touch and support their family back home in an affordable way. Wifi and data are not yet ubiquitous, so our app will allow people to connect home, regardless of the technology of the receiving family member back home,” says Hirsch.
IDT’s retail-wholesale proposition
What makes IDT unique in the wholesale carrier industry is its ability to transfer its retail-generated minutes via BOSS Revolution to telecoms providers who need to terminate international minutes. That’s where Ford and his 50-strong wholesale team then trade on those minutes. “The wholesale organisation, including retail minutes, trades about 30 billion minutes a year,” states Ford. “On the back of our retail minutes it gives us a real solid foundation on which to grow and trade within the carrier wholesale space.” IDT’s retail relationship has synergies with its carrier sister, says Hirsch. “Working with the carrier team providers are able to influence, through IDT Retail, the flow of minutes into countries, not just with the volumes that are being terminated through their networks but also with other outbound traffic they might have into the international telecoms market space.” “Business in Latam, Africa and Asia is picking up as immigration trends dictate a lot of people from these areas migrating to the US and Europe,” Ford adds. “We are seeing strong growth of BOSS Revolution from the US and Europe to these corridors, which opens up conversations with LNOs and MNOs domiciled in those regions on the wholesale side. In an industry where the voice minute is flat or in decline, it is encouraging that we are able to conduct conversations with our wholesale customers around stability with our own retail traffic.
Areas such as HD voice and LTE services have been “slower to evolve than we perhaps imagined as an industry. It’s an evolution, not a revolution,” says Ford. “We’ll continue to see those services evolve but they haven’t been impactful to our business either way, as far as the evolution of voice services goes.”
However, Ford believes services like money transfer and the use of mobile wallets for its retail customers will not just add another string to IDT’s innovative bow but will be a more adopted trend: “I think that is something we are seeing a faster rollout with as people become more comfortable with electronic money, which is becoming a bigger part of all our lives.”
Ford says it’s been an amazingly positive reception from the market and it’s a different way of looking at the business. “Rather than just looking at a wholesale minute as a tradable commodity, we’re able to say to international telecom providers that we actually have access to your foreign-born community on the ground overseas and we have 50,000 retailer outlets across the US and many more across the BOSS Revolution footprint.” They suddenly understand that they can have direct access to the people overseas that are calling back into their networks for the vast majority of their traffic and calls.
In an increasingly digitally-connected world, local and mobile network operators will seek to diversify and with it, will need to cope with the rapid growth in international calling. IDT has enhanced and improved the lives of immigrant customers across the globe via the BOSS Revolution brand, which has resulted in uncovering new opportunities, lower costs and new potential revenue streams for LNOs and MNOs.