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EDITORIAL Fonix float and DOCOMO fintech chase reinforce DCB’s mainstream position

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Things have moved fast in telemedia-land during the pandemic. Having waxed-lyrical about how the technologies that form the core of the business – carrier billing, IPRN, messaging – are all slowly entering the mainstream, we get yet more proof-positive as to how well entrenched they are becoming.

Fonix, one of the long-standing players in the market, has announced this week that it is set to float on the London Stock Exchanges tech market, AIM, raising countless millions for investment and entrenching carrier billing yet further into the mainstream pantheon of telecoms technologies.

It comes as no great shock; the company has been a leading light at getting carrier billing out there into areas of media and beyond where it has seen great uptake.

Fishing TV has used it to run subscriptions to its content, the National Trust is using it to sell membership and other products, Comic Relief and its associated charity telethons have also been long-time users and it has been used widely by Cancer UK.

All these things have seen it pioneer the deployment of carrier billing in places that have gotten it in front of many users. The company has in no small part made DCB as acceptable as it is today. So well done to the team at Fonix.

The move comes hot on the heels DOCOMO appointing its new SVP, Jonathan Bennett, with the specific charge of building a raft of fintech partnerships around its payment tools, which include carrier billing.

The move again sees DCB becoming a much more intrenched part of the payments mix and partnering out with fintechs old and new is likely to only increase its reach.

The growing market for games subscriptions – tipped to be worth around $11 billion by 2025 – is also going to see even more interest in new ways to bill.

This, coupled with the growing move to build carrier billing into RCS messaging – as we discussed in a recent MEF webinar that I was lucky enough to chair – as pioneered by mGage and suddenly carrier billing is looking like a serious contender.

It’s use in a range of applications across TV, messaging, ticketing and charity are likely to make it something that increasingly captures the attention of more and more consumers.

It is also good news for IPRN, which is itself seeing a boom in usage across TV and media companies worldwide. With more consumers eating up video clip content, the role of mobile TV is shifting to one of small, snackable, shareable bites that augment bigger showings on streaming services. This requires microbilling, and DCB and IPRN are starting to fill that gap worldwide, with IPRN becoming a key tool in regions such as Eastern Europe, MENA and Asia where services often play out across borders and need a simple, international way to micro-bill.

With demand for free internet access growing, MNOs need to increasingly find new ways to make money and billing for the OTT services or the content they carry on those OTT services is one way to help plug that gap. Using IPRN and carrier billing may well be just what they need. And with the likes of Fonix and DOCOMO taking these even more mainstream can only be a good thing.

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