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Carrier billing comes of age

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Mobile payments are taking off and, thanks to PSD2 and changing consumer habits, direct carrier billing (DCB) is starting to become a star performer in Europe and beyond. Paul Skeldon takes a look which commercial sectors it is going to own in 2019

Apart from Brexit, there is little about the EU that gets the pulse racing – least of all something as prosaic as the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). And yet, PSD2 is slowly bringing about a revolution in how consumers pay for things.

Finally, charging to the mobile phone bill is entering the mainstream.

There is much detail in PSD2, but the key elements mean that it is possible for consumers to spend up to €50 per transaction – up to a total of €300 per month – using direct carrier billing (DCB). And this has opened up a panoply of new services that it can be used for. So what is DCB being used for across the world?

Content

The rise of Netflix and Spotify have shown the masses that content isn’t free. Gone are the days when kids pirate-streamed movies, music and other digital content: now it is something that everyone gets they have to pay for.

But monthly subscriptions aren’t the only way to buy content. Increasingly, there is a move towards instant payment for snackable content – a quick, new-age fix of stuff there and then on the phone.

And what better way to pay for that, than using carrier billing? “One of the main advantages behind direct carrier billing is without doubt that it offers a considerable improvement of the user experience,” says Roberto Monge, COO, of Spanish payment service provider Telecoming. “The simplicity of the payment process is encouraged by the absence of intermediaries that simplifies the whole procedure and provides a simple and outstanding experience.”

Monge continues: “Autonomy is undoubtedly one of the main benefits derived from direct carrier billing. It enables users to carry out payments, whenever and wherever they want, regardless of their credit card disposal. This becomes especially appealing to certain age group collectives, such as teens.”

Snacking on top sports clips is a prime example, with PM Connect servicing Belgian carrier Proximus with DCB for 6 million people to pay for clips on the LiveFootballTV app.

Bert Maetens, Carrier Billing Partner Manager at Proximus, comments: “Through carrier billing, we offer our customers the chance to access top-quality content from global brands with maximum speed and ease. In a crowded market, being able to provide top apps and subscription sites, as well as a hassle-free way to pay for them, is crucial.”

And even mainstream services such as Amazon Prime Video are open to DCB, with payment company Bango working with the retail behemoth in Brazil, India, Japan, the UK and US.

Ticketing

Another area where DCB is gaining ground is in ticketing – and excellent fit as it allows for not only ease of purchase, but the ticket can be displayed on the phone. German bus company FlixBus already uses DCB for the buying of bus tickets, while many sporting events are experimenting with using it.

This has been applied in a trial for ticketing for Young Frankenstein theatre tickets.The musical comedy, currently playing in the West End at the Garrick Theatre. uses the mobile network operators’ marketing channels to drive consumers to a bespoke landing page, that enables customers to purchase up to two theatre tickets effortlessly from their mobile phone.

The service uses Fonix’s Carrier Billing product to seamlessly charge the Young Frankenstein tickets straight to the consumer’s mobile phone bill, without the need to enter credit card details – and the deal comes hot on the heels of Fonix launching the UK’s first carrier billing ticketing deal with the Cowes Floating Bridge.

Paul Hicks, Ticketing and Revenue Consultant on Young Frankenstein, says: “User experience is everything, which is why carrier billing was such a natural choice for Young Frankenstein as it enables customers to purchase tickets with just a couple of clicks.”

Health , Fitness and Education

Health, fitness, wellbeing and education are a new world of apps that have started to become increasingly popular with consumers. Many are free, but there are elements that can be paid for – additional content and services, fun add-ons and so on – and again carrier billing is making this happen, especially in markets where card payments aren’t so common.

For example, RGK Mobile has formed a partnership with Sunrise Switzerland, allowing sunrise subscribers to purchase RGK content with just two clicks, thanks to DCB.

Through partnerships with popular content providers, along with its own services, RGK Mobile provides fresh, exclusive, high-quality content to subscribers, pre-approved and licensed for the individual markets. For instance, Sunrise subscribers can sign up for Wellness Energy (fitness and lifestyle), Appbox (a game portal), and Let Me Dance (dance tutorials), along with other content, including music, sports, and dating.

Subscription requests go directly to the operator’s billing system, where they leverage pre-populated subscriber data. RGK Mobile’s aggregated payment system (premium SMS billing) is enabled through integration with Sunrise Switzerland’s existing billing system.

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

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