Intigral primed to enlarge its Mena digital footprint

Triska Hamid

June 24, 2013

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The Dubai-based digital media company Intigral is looking to expand its footprint with plans to work with up to 16 telecoms operators across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) by the end of the year.

Intigral, which is majority owned by the Saudi Telecoms Company, counts STC and its Viva subsidiaries among its clients as well as the UAE's du and Sudan's Sudatel.

"One of the main changes in our strategy is to start to go outwards, not away from STC as it will still be our core and main focus, but to leverage our capabilities to the broader market," said Juan Jose De La Torre, the vice-president of strategy and corporate development at Intigral.

"We were not able to do this before as it was a matter of priorities."

STC boosted its 51 per cent Intigral stake to 71 per cent for Dh88 million in 2011, acquiring the stake held by Saudi Research and Marketing Group. The Malaysian media company Astro owns the remaining 29 per cent stake.

"We are partially owned by STC, but we are a fully independent company and we share no services with STC. The whole point of establishing the company in the UAE was to secure this independence and have access to multiple customers," said Mr De La Torre.

Intigral has also moved away from being a content aggregator to content producer, with a focus on both Arabic and English language.

The company created the first mobile app for Manchester United after STC acquired the English Premier League football club's mobile sponsoring and marketing rights.

In terms of content, sports, women and religion are regarded as the key areas for Intigral's development. "We are investing in creating content with our own teams in the GCC and the Levant area," said Mr De La Torre.

"There is not much content and quality apps in Arabic that people can download and enjoy. This is our priority."

Last year the company launched more than 40 products and services including apps and online destinations. This year it is hoping to launch a further 30.

The company also offers internet protocol television, or TV on demand, and mobile billing solutions to operators and e-commerce websites, an area that is set to grow rapidly for the company.

"Mobile transactions is growing a lot, but the base is very small today," said Mr De La Torre. "It is an area that requires a lot of education and trust but mobile billing in the region is particularly relevant because the penetration of credit cards is low."

A recent report from Gartner suggested the compounded annual growth rate for mobile transactions in the Mena region will grow by 80 per cent from last year to 2017.

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