From bus rides to music streaming services, from floating bridges to car hire, carrier billing and mobile payments are driving not only how people pay for services, but are starting to shift how consumers and brands engage with each other.
Take the example of music streaming services. Bango has partnered with Pandora, the largest music streaming service in the US, to power subscriptions through Pandora reseller partners.
This service is initially available on a US-based wireless network provider, enabling Pandora to grow the subscriber base for their leading music service.
Eligible customers can select a bundled subscription to Pandora Premium to add to their plan. AT&T customers are the first to receive this offer. With Pandora Premium, users can search and play any song or album, with unlimited skips / replays, no ads, higher quality audio, offline listening, the ability to create playlists, and access to Pandora’s newly launched Personalized Soundtracks.
The past few years have seen a huge change in how people get their entertainment, with a dramatic shift toward online streaming services to access the latest entertainment. The paid subscription model has supported the growth in these services. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the majority of the 16.5% rise in music revenue in the US in 2017 is due to music streaming services.
“Driving subscriber growth is a key focus area for us this year,” says Dave Geary, VP of Business Development, Pandora. “We’re excited to partner with Bango to enable listeners’ seamless sign-up to Pandora’s subscription music services through Bango’s network of telco and other billing partners.”
“Bango is excited that Pandora has chosen to use the Bango Platform to broaden their reach through partnership with resellers,” adds Bango CEO Ray Anderson. “We look forward to building on this initial launch to enable Pandora to grow new subscribers in the era of streaming services.”
On the buses
Meanwhile, FlixBus is set to be the first European long-distance bus provider to incorporate Google Pay services into its Android FlixBus app, allowing customers to use their digital wallets to more quickly and confidently purchase tickets.
Google Pay is an e-commerce online payment system and digital wallet, that enables users to carry out simple, fast and secure in-app and on websites. FlixBus app users will see a “Buy with Google Pay” icon in the checkout. From now on a few clicks is enough to purchase a ticket with the payment details stored in the user’s Google account.
Digital solutions for superior FlixBus customer experience
Customer-oriented digital solutions have been at the core of the FlixBus model since the company launched in 2013. In addition to partnering with leading technology companies such as Google, FlixMobility employs an in-house team of over 200 developers who work to consistently improve the FlixBus product. In April 2018, FlixBus became the first bus provider in the world to integrate with Google Assistant. With the addition of Google Pay services into the FlixBus Android app, it is even easier to purchase a ticket for your next travel.
“We are happy to provide our FlixBus users with the best travel experience by including innovative digital features in our app,” said Daniel Krauss, Co-Founder and CIO of FlixMobility. “With Google Pay, our customers can book the fastest or cheapest connection with FlixBus via in-app Additionally, customers’ data is kept safe with a two-factor security feature that verifies the customer’s identity before payment.”
Money back guarantee
While payments in general – and carrier billing in particular – are helping to drive engagement across value added services, there will be times when things don’t work out: and that means refunds.
Thanks to the new MobileRefunds solution, businesses that charge a consumer’s mobile phone bill – for anything from digital goods, to charity donations – can, for the first time, refund directly back onto that mobile phone bill if needed.
BillMobile has developed the new technology, to help businesses both simplify and reduce the cost of their refund process. Enarpee Services, an experts in regulatory advice, due diligence, compliance and audits, has signed up as the first MobileRefunds client.
“The current system means that businesses ask an already disappointed, or even angry, customer to spend time waiting for, and then cashing a cheque in order to receive their refund,” says Adam Williams, COO of BillMobile. “We can now provide a simple and effective way of providing the consumer with a refund that meets their expectations.”
The Mobile Refunds solution is for any business that charges consumers from their phone bill. No matter which mobile payment method the consumer used – charge to mobile, text message, premium rate phone number – the money can be returned directly to the user’s phone bill with MobileRefunds.
With the implementation of PSD2, it is likely that more consumers than ever will be using charge to mobile to pay for digital goods and so refunds are going to become more common. This technology comes along at just the right time to help smooth out one of the last remaining kinks in direct carrier billing as a mass market offering.
The crediting technology used by BillMobile simply adds a credit to the user’s mobile phone bill, rather than a charge.
The solution is easy for a business to use – they just sign up at www.mobilerefunds.com and add an account balance. They can then refund consumers as needed, either individually, or in batches by uploading a spreadsheet of refunds.
Not only does the MobileRefunds solution improve relationships with consumers, but at just 99p per refund it is cheaper for the merchants than the cost of a cheque plus the envelope, stamp and time to send out a refund in the old fashioned way.
As well as being a cost and time saving solution for businesses, consumers will appreciate the simplicity of being refunded to their mobile bill. It is expected that the number of complaints that are escalated by consumers to the mobile operators themselves will dramatically reduce.
“Businesses can now provide a holistic customer care experience across mobile. What we have developed is a simple, easy, clean, transparent way to refund money directly back onto a consumer’s phone bill,” continues Williams. “If consumers spend money from their mobile phone they expect any refund to go back onto that bill. With MobileRefunds that now happens, resulting in consumers that are happier, more likely to buy from that business again and less likely to complain directly to their mobile operator.”
On the road
The first 100% mobile car rental service, Virtuo, is set to shake up the car rental scene as it launches in London today. The Virtuo app was hand selected by the Apple team as App of the Day on Saturday which generated thousands of installs ahead of the launch.
Already a success in France and Belgium, with rental services across nine major cities, Virtuo is an innovative mobile app that is changing the face of car rental. The app’s early success attracted investment from one of Europe’s leading early stage investors in the future of mobility, Balderton Capital, having also been early investors in the likes of Citymapper and Carwow.
The unique app will enable Londoners to effortlessly explore and escape the confines of the capital city. With a focus on trips over 30 miles, Virtuo customers can travel in a premium Mercedes A-Class from as little as £35 per day.
Virtuo’s passion was born out of a frustration when renting cars: hidden fees, limited opening hours, long queues for pick-up and returns. The industry is known for poor customer satisfaction and constant customer complaints. But this app is designed to change all of that and put the customer (literally) in the driving seat.
The new service lets customers book, locate and unlock a premium Mercedes A-Class within minutes through the Virtuo app. There is no paperwork, no long counter queues to collect and return a traditional rental car and no hidden fees. Virtuo customers can spend more time enjoying their trip, rather than sorting out their car hire.
However, this all-in-app experience is not at the expense of customer service. At the heart of Virtuo is their London-based customer service team, who are always on-hand and can be contacted directly through the app, any time of day or night. Operating their own fleet of standardised premium cars has allowed Virtuo to ensure a consistent and stylish experience.
Karim Kaddoura, Co-founder of Virtuo, explains “We’re extremely proud and excited to be launching Virtuo in the UK today. We genuinely care about our customers and the experience they have with us, every step of the journey is designed to make using Virtuo the ultimate rental experience. We want our customers to be in control of their journey and our 24/7 bookings gives them exactly that, we put them in the driving seat.”
Michael Altom, General Manager Virtuo UK & Ireland, adds “The mobility market is changing at an unprecedented rate. After using our service, enjoying the customer support and the seamless experience, our customers won’t go back to traditional car rental companies or even own a car.”
The brand-new cars are available, from today, to book through the Virtuo app and pick up in five locations across London (London Victoria, London Waterloo, King’s Cross St Pancras, Marble Arch and Kensington). Users can simply download the Virtuo app, validate their account, book their car and be on the road in a matter of minutes.