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    The future of DCB

    2020 saw DCB become more entrenched within consumer services than it has ever been. With the pandemic shifting again, what does 2021 have in store? Here Jonathan Kriegel shares his expert view on what we can expect to see in the year ahead and into the future

    The past six months have brought fundamental changes in working practices which have significantly boosted the network traffic from video streaming and gaming. Some organisations have seen almost double-digit growth in digital content consumption and a greater penetration of Direct Carrier Billing (DCB).

    DOCOMO Digital has seen an overall increase in the level of engagement with DCB because of the millions of employees and students that have switched to working from home this year. There is little doubt that changes in consumer behaviour now will drive the adoption of new payment mechanisms in the future.

    Across the years I given numerous keynotes about the carrier billing industry. Here are some thoughts about how user behaviour has altered the carrier billing landscape post-COVID and during 2020 and what lies ahead.

    DCB is growing exponentially

    The global direct carrier billing market was valued at US$ 29.8 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach US$ 70.0 billion by 2025. The COVID-19 crisis has shifted media consumption. Carrier billing is especially relevant in bringing digital services to the underbanked markets across Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa. The disruption is now consumer-controlled and the surge in video and audio streaming is anticipated to impact the growth of the global direct carrier billing market.

    Providing a frictionless payment experience

    Telcos are driving DCB in terms of ease of use and convenience. Multiple campaigns to drive engagement and loyalty have been initiated, and all these aspects have worked to promote over-the-top (OTT) services and DCB.

    Alternative payment methods (APMs) and eWallets aid market penetration

    The pandemic drove up the use for APMs as cash was less popular. Providing convenience in payments is key and most popular payment methods include mobile wallets, or debit or credit cards in the UK and France. Many telcos have introduced eWallets of their own to capitalise on the steadily increasing penetration of smartphones within their subscriber base.

    OTT media is here to stay

    OTT media continues to grow as data has become cheaper, data speeds significantly quicker, and the advent of 5G, and as the number and sophistication of devices explode. The rising demand for OTT content as one of the prime reasons driving the direct carrier billing platform market growth during the next few years.

    Bundling and Partnerships

    DCB is being propelled by bundled content providers. By bundling digital services, telecommunication providers can bundle their digital services as part of their limited period offerings to existing and new subscribers. Telecom operators are well-positioned to become active stakeholders in the mobile gaming sector by leveraging on DCB deployments and subscription bundling. Bundling  in partnership with mobile carriers with also enables digital brands to find traction in new international markets quickly, wherein the mobile carriers can co-invest in marketing efforts.

    Merchants turn towards Direct Carrier Billing specialists

    Forging partnerships and setting up billing system integration for each individual merchant whilst navigating local financial regulation can be complex and time-consuming – for many, a Direct Carrier Billing specialist can do the legwork on their behalf.

    New financial services regulation

    Currently carrier billing is mostly used for small scale payments, microtransactions and subscription payments. Known for its simplicity, security and accessibility, Carrier billing will remain much the same with the implementation of PSD2 and SCA.

    Using AI technology to address bad debts

    Dealing with bad debt effectively is a key aspect of any DCB operation. DOCOMO Digital has worked with carrier groups to reduce debt by up to a third using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

    Expansion into new industries

    Gamification of Education is seen as a key source of revenue for gaming companies. Education gaming is poised to deliver a CAGR of 66.2% between 2016 and 2020 surpassing other segments in gaming easily. Carrier billing solutions will be used for subscriptions, one-off payments, and in-app purchases Similarly, there is a shift towards mobile gaming. DCB helps accelerate the growth of gaming by making payments friction-free, thereby delivering better conversion and retention rates.


    Jonathan Kriegel is CEO at DOCOMO Digital

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