From ‘Direct Operator’ to ‘Carrier’ Billing

Written by on February 13, 2015 in BillingViews, Opinion with 0 Comments

Smartphone with video gameFollowing a conversation with the Marketing Director of Bango, Richard Leyland, we have decided to change the term Direct Operator Billing (DoB) in our articles, to Carrier Billing (CB).

The reason we made the decision, was Bango themselves did some research last year that showed the overwhelming majority of players – from telecoms operators, device manufacturers and app stores now describe it this way.

It is taking off. There are 65 telecoms operators in 32 countries listed in the Google App Store alone, although apparently Vodafone is no longer supported.

Apart from a couple of high profile announcements, from the likes of Telenor and Telefonica, Carrier Billing seems to be quietly taking hold. Even operators not listed on web sites such as Google’s are admitting to ‘doing something in this space.’

The point is that CB ticks the boxes of new opportunities for telecoms operators. It is easy to use, and that is vital for customers. It is ideal for markets where there is low penetration of bank accounts and credit cards, with a young customer base who are attracted to games and apps. Pakistan, Indonesia and South Africa are prime examples.

More importantly, it is a revenue stream for operators that should go some way to replacing the core revenues that they are losing to Digital Service Providers such as WhatsApp. “It is a low margin business and a game of scale,” says Leyland, “but one that operators need to evaluate because customers really love it.”

Many already are. A survey last summer of 67 operators spotlighted Carrier Billing as an opportunity that operators are actively exploring. While approximately 20 percent are using real-time charging functionality to support it now, that figure increases to over 30 percent in two years’ time. Even though areas such as ‘OTT collaboration’ proved a greater focus, it is still clearly on operators’ radar.

As if to prove the point, Apple iTunes store notched up $500 million of sales in a single week recently. And probably still has the slickest process. Based on a utilitarian rating engine and only sending ‘invoices’ when it wants to, it certainly has the upper hand. But Apple still won’t deal with operators.

For this reason, operators have the biggest opportunities in regions where there is low penetration of credit cards, which is what Apple’s business model is based on.

Whatever you call it, it is an opportunity worth exploring, and an increasing number of app stores and mobile operators are doing just that.

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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