I believe that good regulation allows industry to innovate and flourish whilst protecting consumers. I believe also that organisations should be clear and open about their purpose and their goals.
This is why as Chairman of PhonepayPlus I have launched the search for a new name for the organisation, and I want to involve the premium rate services industry it regulates in the conversation.
The premium rate services industry is lively and creative and it has changed considerably since ICSTIS took the name PhonepayPlus back in 2008. App stores and online payment options such as Payforit now allow consumers to charge a wider selection of digital goods and services to their phone bill. And with 66% of UK adults now carrying a smartphone in their pockets, the way in which consumers interact with premium rate services has changed too.
As the regulator we need to continue to work collaboratively with the industry to adapt to changes in technology, business models and consumer behaviour.
These values and the practical, collaborative approach is at the heart of our name change work. We will not be hiring rebranding consultants, instead I want to draw on suggestions from the PRS industry, stakeholders and staff. I believe that this joint work, will produce the best new name, one that makes clear to all the organisation’s role and our purpose, to promote a healthy innovative market in premium rate services.
This will benefit both the market and consumers. A large number of people who contact PhonepayPlus do not understand who and what our role is. This needs to change.
I want us to make it easier for consumers to understand what PRS is, who we are, who to contact and when. PhonepayPlus often acts as the signpost for consumers to their network operator or service provider, through information on our website and engagement with our contact centre team via the phone or online.
I believe that consumers and industry are best served by the regulator developing rules which allow for innovation in the market, which does not to stifle market growth and protects consumers, rather than through the individual handling of billing enquiries. The regulator does not seek to provide complaint resolution, working with consumers on individual cases to seek refunds or other forms of redress. We aim to help consumers use PRS with confidence, by supporting individuals in the line of making further regulatory enquiries where appropriate and proportionate.
But, network operators and service providers are often best placed to assist consumers when they first encounter a problem or have a query.
A new name, which clearly identifies our role and the industry we regulate will help to support our ongoing work in promoting a healthy market that is right for consumers and industry alike.
Further information about the name change process is on our website. I encourage you to get involved and give us your suggestions.