With the ongoing discussions surrounding the expansion of nationwide 3G and the installation of a new 4G network in Thailand, the mobile industry of this southeast Asian country is growing rapidly in recent years.
There are close to 20 million smartphone users in Thailand – taking up 40% of the overall phone market. There are also more than 7 million tablet computers, with Android reaching more than 70% of the market, according to stats from data driven mobile marketing platform NDP Media. The market size of Thailand’s games market is set to reach US $140 million this year.
Total sales for smartphones in Thailand – 2012-2013
Source: GFK (Jan. 8, 2013)
However, getting into this market is not as easy as you might imagine. Android is by nature a vast landscape of fiercely competing apps, so promotion can be a challenge to companies going local. Thailand is also a developing market, so there are naturally going to be unavoidable obstacles. One of the important ones to overcome is to understand the country’s mobile payment methods. Localizing products for convenient mobile payments is essential for content providers looking to enter the Thai games market. Let’s take a look at four of the most popular mobile game payment methods in Thailand.
1. MOL Points
MOL Points was created in Malaysia by MOL Global. Early on in 2010 MOL signed a tactical deal with Facebook, and their subsidiary AccessPortal became the payment service provider for Facebook Credits (FB’s own virtual coin). With its spread on FB and Thailand’s craving for social network games, it’s easy to see why MOL’s payment system has been able to become so widely applied.
One-2-Call is main brand from Thailand’s largest mobile communications company AIS, which has the largest number of users in Thailand, according to the report. One-2-Call’s Cash Card has the same prepaid card service as MOL Points, and takes a large portion of payments made on online games. It’s also worth noting AIS also provides the prepaid card service for MOL’s payment channels.
3. Cherry Credits
Cherry Credits comes from Singapore and is a one-stop game distribution platform. It’s also growing and holds a huge share of the Southeast Asian market. The platform provides a cornucopia of games and other fashionable Asian card-style games. Cherry Credits also provides a leading Global Micropayment Solution which has a broad business base. Not only is it applied to In App Purchasing (IAP), but also touches upon paid for digital content.
4. My Card
Initiative Services’s points-card product MyCard has a huge distribution base throughout Malaysia and Singapore. It evolved into a games money storage and payment platform, and from 2010 it slowly spread out to other Southeast Asian countries as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. Thailand is one of the main target markets for the company and today MyCard takes a considerable share of it. What makes MyCard so special are the services and awards they give to members, which have attracted high-quality users. MyCard’s user accounts have already reached 3.5 million, and every month the click through rate reaches more than 450 million.
Other than the methods mentioned above, Thailand still has various other popular mobile payment systems, including the quick finance provider MoneyGram, leading European payment platform E-Wallet Skrill and the world-recognized payment tool Paypal. All of these are becoming more and more widely used and recognized. But when it comes to payments for the relatively niche field of games payments, top-up and prepaid cards are undoubtedly the most popular systems in Thailand.
Thailand’s mobile game chart analysis
Source: App Annie
The competition in Thailand’s mobile games market has already followed the trend of broadband internet slowly covering the country and become fiercer. Within the field of mobile games, Japan’s Line games are year on year steady at the top of the Thai mobile games charts. This is because Line took a upper-hand in Thailand’s market early on by providing the main instant messaging service there and bringing with it mobile games.
Thailand’s love for light-entertainment games and appetite for gambling-style games have popularized many of the above mobile apps throughout the country. Cultural differences and local thematic trends are concerns that content providers must consider when facing the task of localizing products. At the same time, opening up payment channels and adapting a product’s currency to integrate with local user payment habits are paths that a product must take in order to make its way abroad.
image credit: NDP Media