We were drawn to the russian market because we have similar mindsets
Infobip is a mobile service with over 200,000 clients and 300 mobile operators. The company’s mission is to connect users with business. By developing and applying mobile services, Infobip helps sellers of goods and services establish contact with consumers. And direct contact means the opportunity to get important information across quickly and respond to how it’s perceived.
Infobip’s Managing Director Petr Yakubovich talked to Capital Ideas about how the company entered the Russian market and what it does here.
How and when was the company established? How did you get started?
The company was established in 2002. Our first client was the government of Vodnjan (Croatia), which at some point decided to wish all city residents a Merry Christmas. The future directors of the company thought of a way to do this. They proposed using text messages. This worked, and they started thinking about how to make this service scalable and make a profit. In a word, the decision was made to establish a company and start operating globally.
How did Infobip find clients? How did this all work?
At the preliminary stage, when not many people knew who we were, there were occasional orders. We primarily found clients through the same city of Vodnjan, which became our big client. Then we got more orders. We started to create our own sales department, to look for people that would be able to promote the company both in Croatia and abroad. Up until 2008, our clients were primarily located in Croatia and former Yugoslavia. Russia was the first truly foreign country where the company entered the market with our services.
What about the Russian market attracted you?
I think, before anything else, the similar mindset. In spite of the fact that Croatia is Europe, it’s still a lot different from Western Europe, from Germany, for example. So it was easy to start with a country that was closer and easier to understand.
What does Infobip do today? Could you tell is more about Infobip’s participation in business communications?
Right now, the company focuses on the following key industries: online services and e-commerce, banking, retail, travel, and logistics. We offer businesses communication channels like text messages, push notifications, and marketing messages through messengers, e-mail, and voice calls. Moreover, we actively work with different mobile operators on a wide spectrum. So we communicate closely with clients on the one hand, and also work closely with operators, who are both our suppliers and our customers.
Are there any nuances about the market in Moscow? For example, maybe companies in Moscow need specific tools while clients in other parts of the country need other solutions?
Of course. In Moscow and the European part of Russia, for example, a lot of communication happens through Viber. But in Tatarstan, almost nobody uses Viber. So primarily it’s a matter of which communication channels are used in specific places. CIS countries also differ in terms of preference. Viber is popular in Belarus, while Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan prefer WhatsApp. So we combine different communication channel options.
What do you think about the current state of the Russian A2PSMS market?
According to the information we have, the Russian A2PSMS market will grow slightly over the next few years, in terms of both revenue and traffic volumes. This is because users are becoming more financially and digitally savvy, and because of legislative requirements for the preservation and protection of personal data. The use of bank cards and loyalty cards also contributes to the growth of B2BSMS message volumes.
Who are your main partners in Russia?
First and foremost, mobile operators. We know all of them and are friends with all of them. Our office in Moscow works with not only Russia, but with all CIS countries. Overall, the company has over 50 offices all over the world, so we also work with international companies in Russia. In terms of clients, we work with leading Russian internet portals, many major Russian retailers, and several Top-10 banks.
You probably have a lot of competition in Russia. What are your key advantages over them?
Yes, of course we have competitors. Our advantage over them, first of all, is scale. We’re connected to over 800 operators all over the world. That is, if Russian companies work with clients who aren’t Russian mobile operator subscribers, we can help them establish communication. We can offer good quality and good terms.
Another advantage is solid technical support – powerful platforms with 99 percent fault tolerance, five data centers around the world, and seven development centers. All of this is why customers stay with us, even when one of our competitors offers them better terms.
I’ll also say that because we’re present across all continents, we focus on local experience and specifics of A2P communications for every market. This enables us to track all trends in the sphere of technology that are happening in other countries and other regions. Our competitors in Russia and other CIS countries primarily focus on local traffic.
Moreover, Infobip is a member of GSM. This association deals with cooperation between operators, regulates certain services, and publishes documents that all operators on the market adhere to. In other words, Infobip, along with the largest mobile operators, defines industry standards.