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EDITORIAL DCB gets a slam-dunk, but is a time-out on its way?

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The news that PM Connect has signed a deal with The National Basketball Association in the US that will allow basketball fans to subscribe to the NBA’s League Pass using DCB is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a slam-dunk for direct carrier billing.

Launching the rapid mobile-first subscription service in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, South Africa, Spain and the UK effectively brings DCB into the mainstream content market, cementing its place as a key billing tool for all manner of services.

The NBA’s Associate Vice President, Media Distribution for NBA EME, Bastien Lacheny, hits the nail on the head when he says that “by adding direct carrier billing to the suite of subscription payment types on offer, fans will be able to enjoy an enhanced transactional experience”.

This sums up just where DCB now fits into a world much-altered since 2019. Everything – even Basketball – is now mobile-first and consumers want the easiest and most friction-free path to the content and services they crave. Carrier billing brings this to them.

The use of DCB at the NBA also serves two purposes that also mark out how content consumption has changed. First, it is likely being seen as an onboarding tool for the NBA’s subscription service – a convenient way to get users using then to upsell them to more traditional billing tools.

However, there is also the move to using DCB for a more snackable experience, where users who may never actually buy a subscription can still enjoy some of the content on a more ad hoc basis.

This, as we have said before, allows organisations with content to tap into a whole new user base and increase revenues, rather than cannibalise them.

The move will undoubtedly create new user groups for the NBA, as well as perhaps also seeing it reshape the services it offers to some of these groups – and excellent example of billing driving content, which in turn drives billing and so on.

Hutch and Fortumo certainly agree, with the two teaming up to bring DCB to the Sri Lankan market, where it will allow consumers much awaited access to subscribe and pay seamlessly for their favourite content from apps, games, music, videos and other top services without having to use credit or debit cards.

The future of payments

However, while DCB is in the ascendent, the future of payments is already starting to take shape. As we discussed in the last editorial, direct bank transfer payments are already starting to show some promise as an even easier way to pay on mobile – and open up a whole world of ecommerce to payment providers in telemedia.

Now research from Juniper shows that digital money transfer payments are starting to grow rapidly and could hit $3.4trn by 2025. While limited to peer-to-peer in most cases so far, they are starting to garner some interest as a means of making social payments. According to Juniper’s research, conversational platforms, such as WhatsApp, are poised for growth, with the successful launch of its payment feature in India and the recent green light for the roll-out of its payment solution in Brazil.

The report recommends that money transfer vendors develop the social elements of their apps in order to combat the increased competition from conversational commerce players.

Ioana Manaila, COO at Hypercentage, goes even further, deeming DCB to be ‘old’ already and full of drawbacks that need to be overcome for it to become something really useful.

As she says in our Meet the People interview: “DCB requires careful service investigation and hard to reach conditions for each merchant. If the carrier has enough similar services active, he can decide to reject your product. DCB pays in local currency and merchants are losing from the FX rates. DCB pays every 90 days and usually has lots of chargebacks. DCB started to refuse more and more services day by day. It has only side effects.”

Instead, Hypercentage offers use an alternative in-house monetisation processor – pay by call and pay by SMS. This, she says is “All simple, all rapid, all international. No chargebacks, NO frauds, NO FX losses, only international currencies (EURO or USD)”.

And she knows what she is talking about, she already pays affiliates in Bitcoin should they request it, showing that already those companies at the vanguard of using new payment tech are putting their money, literally, where their mouth is.

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