The charity sector has long been the poster boy for mobile payments in general and carrier billing/text to pay in particular. In fact, it is the only part of the carrier billing market that has ever been truly accepted by customers and the business sector it seeks to serve. It is also the one area where growth has been significant.
And for that we should be celebrating. 2017 has once again demonstrated how effective this sort of method of payment can be.
According the good people at the Association for Interactive Media and Entertainment (AIME), donating by text has increased in popularity with both donors and charities over the past two years due to its simplicity and ease for donors, as well as the knowledge that the full donation goes directly to charity. £122m of text donations were generated in 2016.
Generally this volume came from £5 and £10 requests. However, they were generating a lower average donation value compared to other channels.
Indeed, mobile payments company Fonix processed more than £9.5m worth of text donations on live night for the Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day fundraiser on 24 March, showing just how it has been embraced by the public.
This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that Joe Public will use carry billing if it makes easy doing something they want to do. Secondly, it shows that, if they trust why they are doing it, then they will click.
These two points are the two vital lessons that the charity sector can teach us. Make it easy and clear what you are doing and attach it to something squeaky clean where there is no room for doubt in what they are doing.
To date, outside of the charity sector, much of carrier billing’s success and growth has come from services where consumers are going to be spontaneous – hence why carrier billing is used – but that they later come to regret. You know the sort of thing I am talking about. This then leads to complaints, cold feet, denial and bill-shock.
And this, as you all know, has been the bane of the PRS sector: irate people on the blower to their network operator or worse PSA.
Services such as COCASE could do much to help this not be such a public issue for the MNOs and the regulator, but it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem: lack of trust. What the carrier billing community needs to do is to take these massive successes in the charity sector and sell the idea far and wide. For years we have been talking about car parks, ticketing, train fares and more being ideal points for carrier billing to be used. But in many cases they are yet to make an appearance.
Across Europe things are a bit different. As DIMOCO’s latest report showed, carrier billing is starting to give credit card a run for its money when it comes to buying digital goods. And, in Germany, car parking is starting to see the attraction of its speed and ease.
This is going to see carrier billing grow to some 21% of all digital content billing by 2021 – compared to 11% today – but the UK doesn’t appear to be much of a contributor to this growth.
While the link between Brexit and carrier billing growth, m-payments rules and telemedia is yet to be fully understood, it seems that even before the UK pulls out of the EU, we already lag behind in forward thinking use of the technology.
And while carrier billing here dithers, all the other ways of paying are gaining ground. PayPal and Apple Pay are already surging online and on mobile for e- and m-commerce. Contactless cards are also doing it in store.
Even telemedia stalwart Oxygen8 has rebranded itself to tap into the wider m-payments sector outside of just carrier billing.
Carrier billing, with a neat niche to fill being digital only, needs to up its game or lose out.
That is going to take finding trust and finding sectors outside of charity that can make this happen. The public probably wants it, just does the industry want it enough?