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Carrier billing’s new dawn

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Carrier billing has come a long way since the drop charge premium rate calling days – it is now an accepted part of everyday life for many. Paul Skeldon takes a look at what is driving this surge and what it means

According to research by DIMOCO in its European Carrier Billing Market – today and tomorrow report, carrier billing is being driven by the unbanked smartphone savvy youth market, the general population waking up to the ease of use of DCB and the drive to expand what it can be used for to new quasi-physical purchases.

This latter point is perhaps the biggest issue of the day on carrier billing, with the EU’s Second Payments Services Directive (PSD2) coming into force this January (see page 8) and opening up carrier billing for use in a much wider and more mainstream range of services such as parking (see page 9) and ticketing (see page 10). This is set to drive uptake of carrier billing to new heights in Europe – and beyond.

According to Gil Regev, chief communications officer at RGK Mobile: “PSD2 will fundamentally change the payments value chain, what business models are profitable, and customer expectations. What it essentially means is that mobile operators could potentially become the go-to financial institution to its subscribers, with banks being forced to disclose spending information, financial habits, etc. For mobile content these are very promising news; it means that companies like RGK will be able to cut transaction costs and transfer these savings over to the end consumer, tightening the value chain and keeping it more efficient, with less fish eating in this pond.”

Around the world

RGK Mobile has already demonstrated the power of this model with a tie up with Airtel in India, one of the hottest markets for carrier billing right now (see page 4). Airtel’s subscribers can now purchase RGK’s content services in a fully-secure process with just one click—with no forms to fill out or credit information to submit. Subscription requests go directly to the operator’s billing system, leveraging pre-populated subscriber data. This faster and easier process results in significantly higher subscriber conversion.

Through partnerships with content providers and by creating its own exclusive services, RGK Mobile delivers a diverse range of content—from music and video to games and sports, dating and health, fitness and more, all pre-approved and licensed for individual markets. RGK Mobile offers premium services that free the mobile operator from the burden of generating and managing mobile content, including technical integration, local content licensing, and traffic acquisition.

Similarly, Bango is rolling out carrier billing services in India, Egypt, Japan, and in Africa (see page 5), while others in the space are rolling out offerings in Europe to take advantage of the up-swing in interest in carrier billing. Chief among these is m-gage, which has successfully offered operators in Holland carrier billing services.

What content?

So what are we seeing carrier billing being used for? One of the earliest adopters of carrier billing has been the gaming industry. A prime example is the partnership between DIMOCO and sports book Energy Bet, which enables online gambling customers to tap into carrier billing to experience the easiest and most efficient mobile payment option. Players can use smart phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and connected TVs, securely identified via their carrier networks, to instantaneously participate in the iGaming experience.

“Consumers are likely to be already familiar with the concept of carrier billing: it is one of the top three payment methods at Facebook, providing the recognition factor with a large swathe of any gambling operator’s potential audience,” says Rafal Nowak, program director, iGaming at DIMOCO. “This payment option brings significant opportunity to service providers, including EnergyBet, due to the direct connectivity to the billing platforms of the major telecoms networks.”

Publishing and media is also a prime example of where carrier billing is being used. The arguments for it are clear (see page 24), but to date not many have taken up the offer.

Bucking that trend, Tola Mobile is collaborating with Touchtechmedia to provide mobile payment processing for Touchtechmedia for their online digital magazine service www.buymymag.co.uk, an E-Money service.

Ticketing is also proving popular. Again, the reasoning is clearly spelled out (see page 10), but despite PSD2 only being in force for a few weeks, there is already an example. Fonix is poised to start providing a mobile payment mechanic for the Cowes Floating Bridge. This is the UK’s first direct carrier billing deal within the ticketing sector. The service carries vehicles, bikes and foot passengers between Cowes and East Cowes. It operates 7 days a week, all year round and takes just a few minutes.

Councillor Ian Ward, Isle of Wight Council Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, explains: “It is important that residents are able to pay to use the floating bridge service in the easiest and most convenient way for them. By providing the option of Fonix’s carrier billing or paypal, on the app, customers can pay safely and securely without any hassle. I look forward to seeing it being used successfully on the floating bridge.”

These are just a taste of what is on offer with carrier billing. Over the next few pages we take a look at some of the hottest markets for these services that are developing worldwide, but already carrier billing’s future looks bright.

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

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