There was much talk at World Telemedia Marbella in October about Direct carrier billing (DCB) – hardly surprising, the show is its natural fanbase. However, what is perhaps more interesting is the terms in which it was being discussed. Gone is the whiff of controversy that has dogged it in some quarters, replaced by an enthusiasm across the board for the payment tool.
Sure, there are issues with fraud in some regions, but much of this has been tackled by Evina, MCP and others. Now, it is seen as the ideal onboarding tool for many services across gaming, sports, adult and even streaming services in some regions. Indeed, in some regions it is now the only way that the burgeoning content and VAS markets can be charged.
While this has driven DCB to become a mainstream VAS payment tool across MENA, parts of central and southern Asia and across LatAm, the payment tool isn’t standing still in Europe either.
News this week that Germany payment company InternetQ has been granted a payment service provider licence in Germany marks a whole new chapter for DCB in the country and potentially opens the doors to a wider pan-European spread of carrier billing as a mainstream payment tool.
The granting of the licence by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) means that InternetQ – which has links with all major Germany MNOs, not to mention those in many other countries – can now offer carrier billing as a payment tool for non-digital goods and services as well as digital ones.
This means that it is making a play to bring carrier billing above the €50 threshold laid out in the PSD2 exemption granted to DCB and will potentially see carrier billing used to buy a much wider range of goods. As the company’s Marco Priewe tells us, this is likely to be things like ride sharing, EV charging and public transport as initial use cases, but in theory there is no limit.
This also makes DCB a much more attractive prospect to gaming and gambling companies, who potentially can use DCB much more broadly as an on-boardiong mechanism. It also legitimises the payment process in the eyes of a great many merchants, not to mention consumers.
Before we get too carried away, however, there is a caveat: before it can start to operate DCB in this way, InternetQ has to get Germany’s MNOs to agree to file the requisite paperwork to make themselves payment agents for the company. This process is underway, by all accounts, but who knows how long this may take; MNOs are not famed for moving quickly and it will rely on their DCB teams persuading higher levels of management that this is a good idea.
Working it InternetQ’s favour is that the move comes as German MNOs have already looked to give DCB a boost by giving it a brand name – “Zahl einfach per Handyrechnung , or roughly translated, “Simply pay by cell phone” – designed to make carrier billing a more recognisable payment tool among both merchants and consumers. The MNOs clearly want to make DCB work. This could hasten a move to make it more mainstream.
There is also the threat that the soon-to-be-drafted Payment Services Directive 3 (PSD3) could well remove the DCB exemption, nixing all current European carrier billing processes and forcing the payment provider-agent model on the whole market. This too could be the spur that is needed to see Germany at least act as the vanguard in this brave new world of DCB payments in the mainstream.