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EDITOR’S BLOG 24-09-15 Does the 120 day rule really matter?

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Hello and Happy Thursday! From now on you will be getting your regular epistle from Telemedia Towers on Thursdays… Hope that’s ok with you? Of courses, this is not the only bit of massive upheaval in the Telemedia industry right now: as we reported last week, changes to how MNOs manage and police subscription services has undergone a radical shift. This week it has been shaken up still further, with EE upping the ante still further.

EE, you see, has decided – nay decreed – that all PSMS services now need to be moved over to Payforit. And everyone has some four weeks to do it.

This obviously makes things even more murky for the Telemedia sector… And something that we shall be looking into in more depths as we get the facts. This comes hot on the heels of the MNOs all decreeing – there’s been a lot of decrees lately – that all subs services have to see ‘interaction’ with 120 days or they will be turned off.

To recap, according to missives issued by all the networks and the PFI Management Group, from 1 September 2015, to quote Three (although the message from all the networks was in essence the same): “Merchant Services where consumers are inactive for a period of 120 consecutive days must be manually unsubscribed and removed from any further billing applicable to that service only. For the avoidance of doubt, ‘inactive’ means the subscriber has not downloaded content, or sent any MO SMS to the service provider. Subscribers who browse a service mobile or web-site will be considered to be ‘active’.”

But is it game over for the industry? It certainly puts a big kink in things and makes payforit – and other carrier billing services – harder to sell. But only into some sectors. In many ways, you could argue that it shores up the technology and makes it something that looks well policed and well run. This could, in a weird way, actually make it easier to get big brands on board with using charge to mobile.

The move by the operators and the Payforit board will certainly hit he services that are the current bread and butter of some Telemedia companies. But does it need to spell the end for them all? Depending on who you talk to in the industry, this is either the worst thing that could possibly have happened, to others it’s all a bit ‘meh’.

As we reported last week, some L2s figure that the kind of businesses they are going after now are not going to balk at such a set of regulations, in fact they sort of expect it.

What it does do, though is make things trickier for the existing services that use carrier billing and are all we have to showcase the technology. And many of those aren’t going to be wiped out by the move.

With gaming companies now very much on board with carrier billing it could be the start of this technology moving into the mainstream. Gaming companies advertise on TV and in the cinema: this is the mainstream place that we really need to see charge to mobile getting some publicity. This could make up for the losses that the 120 day rule might inflict.

Something needs to be done. In France, carrier billing – and ISP billing – is huge and is set to get bigger, according to DIMOCO. Will carriers there be introducing a similar 120 day rule? Will it make any difference?

There is clearly a massive market still to be tapped by charge to mobile. The UK MNOs seem to have inadvertently given it a kicking, but it could well be the making of the payment technology we know and love. It could well be what makes it become a mainstream payment too, despite the operators’ best efforts to upset everyone.

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