Streaming Platforms Leverage Mobile Payments in MENA

Streaming platforms are embracing mobile payments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Around the world, localizing payment methods is key for streaming platforms that don’t want to exclude potential customers. For example, Netflix has sought to broaden the range of alternative payment methods it accepts to include UPI in India and the GoPay digital wallet in Indonesia.

In MENA, one new streaming platform is looking to entice customers in the region by enabling payment via direct carrier billing (DCB), which allows users to charge payments to their mobile phone carrier bill.

TOD, a new sports and entertainment streaming platform created by the Qatari media conglomerate beIN Media Group, will accept DCB for subscription payments thanks to a partnership with TPAY Mobile.

By incorporating TPAY’s DCB technology, the company expects to expand its services to customers who may not have access to a credit or debit card, first targeting the Egyptian market before expanding to more countries across the MENA region.

And with more and more mobile network operators enabling DCB and companies like TPAY Mobile creating single points of connection for businesses that want to facilitate the payment method, streaming services are one of many subscription-based business models that can benefit from the technology.

Although TOD isn’t the first streaming service to enable DCB payment, the firm appears to be banking on its combination of payment options alongside its library of Arabic and Turkish language content to distinguish itself from the competition in the MENA market.

And there is certainly plenty of competition.

In recent years, Netflix has been working hard to add more local content for the MENA market, while Disney+ launched across 16 countries in the region last year. Apart from big international players, more locally focused services like MBC’s Shahid and Starz Play are also strong contenders in the space.

With such an active streaming ecosystem, PWC projects that revenues from online services will make up 46% of total entertainment and media revenue in 2024, up from 37% in 2019.

Telco and FinTech Partnerships

Enabling local payment methods isn’t the only way regional FinTechs are helping streaming platforms enter new markets and increase their customer base.

Over the years, partnering with other service providers to bundle streaming services together with other subscriptions or to promote free trials has proven to be a successful marketing strategy for digital media platforms.

Abu Dhabi-based music and podcast streaming platform Anghami, for example, has been combining both alternative payment facilitation and subscription partnerships, forging dozens of partnerships with mobile network operators to extend its reach in the MENA region.

Explaining the firm’s strategy, Vice President of Business Development Choucri Khairallah, explained in a company blog post that “partnering with mobile operators has been a key focus for us since our inception as they give us the opportunity to reach new audiences.”

He noted that such arrangements allow Anghami to benefit from the telco partner’s marketing reach and offer its users “a convenient way to pay” for access to the streaming service through tailor-made bundles for each market.

In a twist on the promotional partnership model, Viu, a Hong Kong-based online video streaming service, recently announced a deal with cross-border payments firm LuLu Money to help grow its customer base in the MENA region.

Through the collaboration, customers who transact through the LuLu Money app will get up to six months of free subscription to Viu Premium.

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