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Strong carrier billing growth makes up for falling voice revenues across UK PRS sector

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Despite MNO issues with actually turning carrier billing into a viable service in the UK, carrier billing revenues now account for a third of all UK PRS revenues – but voice revenues are in decline.

So finds this year’s Annual Market Review from PhonepayPlus, the UK phone-paid services regulator. Soon to be renamed The Phone-Paid Services Authority (PPSA), the review finds strong growth in operator billing revenues, which have increased by 55% from 2014/15 to 2015/16 and account for almost one-third of total PRS revenue. This has contributed to an overall stabilising in the market after five successive years of dropping revenues. Operator billing revenues are projected to grow still further in 2016/17.

Sectors including games on social media, gambling, music and video content have experienced substantial growth. Revenues from music or video content have risen by 47% from last year as the trend for purchasing digital content to a phone bill is predicted to continue its rise.

Whilst the market is projected to maintain this stability into the 2016/17 financial year, voice-based revenues are continuing to decline. The declining revenues of more traditional forms of PRS and the growth in other areas has led to charity donations replacing directory enquiries as the single largest premium rate service in the UK. UK consumers donated £122m million through charity text giving in 2015/16 and accounted for 18% of all PRS consumer transactions.

The review also found that consumers have a more positive view of PRS than 12 months ago.

Jo Prowse, Chief Executive of PhonepayPlus explains: “The Annual Market Review highlights the positive ways the phone-paid services market has developed, with a number of sectors growing rapidly. Operator billing, and in particular the growth in purchasing digital content to a phone bill, shows that consumers like the convenience phone-paid services offer.

She continues: “PhonepayPlus, which becomes the Phone-paid Services Authority later this year, has worked hard to provide a regulatory framework which allows new services to start and existing services to evolve. We will continue to work with the industry to support positive innovation which is good for consumers and good for the industry.”

Phonepay Plus introduced its new Code of Practice yesterday, with a new mission statement to be “The UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill”. The new name – the Phone Paid Services Authority – comes in to effect in the autumn.

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