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Mideast telcos target fraud and revenue loss

MENA telcos losing almost 20% of revenues on billing errors, systems woes

Mideast telcos target fraud and revenue loss
Middle East operators lost around 20% of revenues, compared to 3-4% in western markets.

Telecommunications operators in the Middle East and North Africa lost approximately 20% of their revenue in 2008 due to billing errors, fraud and poor systems integration, according to research reported at the Fraud Prevention and Revenue Assurance Middle East and North Africa forum event in Dubai.

Anandan Jayaraman, chief product and marketing officer at telecoms software provider Connectiva said that Middle Eastern operators have been slow to address the issue.

"If you look at the Middle East and emerging markets these problems have not been addressed with the same level of urgency as say in the US and Western markets," Jayaraman told Arabian Business this week on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The global average of losses due to issues such as billing errors, fraud and poor systems integration is around three to four percent, according to Jayaraman. Therefore, he said the issue is "without doubt" on the high side in the Middle East region and is something which operators are only now attempting to rectify.

"If you look at the revenue assurance and fraud management systems, the US and Western markets caught on to it in the early part of this decade and most of them have systems installed but in the Middle East and Africa the realisation that they are leaking money has only occurred in the last few years," he added.

Etisalat, the UAE operator, was one of the New York-based consultancy's first customers in the Middle East, but it has also worked with operators such as Zain Group, Cable and Wireless, Bharti Airtel, Qtel Group and T-Mobile. It estimated that it has helped to identify and recover more than $500m in leaked revenues for its clients in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

In the case of the Zain Group, Jayaraman reports that an investigation at one of its subsidiaries uncovered $1.5m in leaked revenue within 60 days.

Researchers at Informa Telecoms and Media forecast that revenue from data services in the Middle East will rise from $6.88bn in 2009 to $13.82bn in 2014. Jayaraman believes there is therefore a higher urgency for operators in the region to put in place strategies to deal with any revenue leaks in the system at present.

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