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EDITOR’S BLOG 090217 2017: a watershed year for payments

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2017 is barely out of the gate and it is shaping up to be a watershed year for online and mobile payments. Already DIMOCO has partnered with EnergyBet to further roll out carrier billing across Europe for gambling services, while Klarna has bought Germany’s BillPay to further strengthen the converging world of online and mobile payments.

If that wasn’t enough, Eckoh has rolled out a secure way to pay over live chat services – one that cuts out the card-not-present fraud risks associated with monetisng these services.

These payments plays show just how important a part of telecoms, commerce and service development. This is echoed in the Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s latest Mobile Money Report, which finds that the number of people using charge to mobile to pay for things has doubled in the past two years, with more than a third of people globally making payments to their phone bills.

And it appears that consumers all over the world have embraced the carrier billing habit. The research shows around a third of users in all the countries surveyed pay this way, with Nigeria top at 42%.

The numbers are encouraging for the ‘carrier billing’ industry, which has worked for many years to encourage this alternative payment method. Carrier billing presents a convenient alternative to credit and debit card payments. In most cases, the payment completion process is faster. It also presents under 18s and unbanked customers with a genuine payment option for digital goods. But carrier billing has its challenges. It works best when it’s available across all (or most) operators in a territory. This is not always the case.

DIMOCO’s move is also a bold way to spread carrier billing still further. Gambling has been an early adopter of charge to mobile, it offers a really frictionless way to get people to put on those first few tentative bets. Gambling firms can then up sell them to accounts.

And this reflects the agile way in which businesses need to embrace payments technology. They aren’t ‘either/or’ choices: the more ways to pay – and the more seamless and smooth those ways are – the more likely people are to pay.

And this is the key advantage that carrier billing has online: it is quick and smooth and secure.

The likes of Apple Pay are rubbing into where charge to mobile plays, but the two can work together. Indeed, Apple is even using charge to mobile to make things work.

The biggest challenge that all these payment tools face is that consumers, however, worry about security.

A survey of UK consumers by Aspect Software finds that, despite liking to buy on mobile through apps, most shoppers won’t purchase with SMS, social media Messaging (Facebook, WhatsApp), Web/Live chat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the telephone.

While social media channels are still widely used for research purposes, the end purchase is carried out elsewhere, either in store or directly through the organisations website. Almost half (48 per cent) of UK consumers said that they had used a text-based channel (including social media, email and mobile app) to make an enquiry in the last 12 months, and 27 per cent made a complaint via the same platforms.

The survey reveals that 69 per cent of consumers have security concerns over payment/ personal details and 60 per cent have concerns over the social media channels being at risk of phishing attempts or fraudulent profiles.

This hasn’t deterred Eckoh, which is offering PCI DSS compliant and secure payments on live chat. Its shaping up to be an interesting year for payments, watch this space.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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