Direct Operator Billing is a success – why are more operators not playing?

Further proof, if further proof is needed, of the real value that a communications provider can deliver to customers came this week. Telecoms.com and others reported that O2UK has launched ‘Charge to Mobile.’ As you might expect, this means that customers can, er, charge things to their mobile. Etisalsat has also announced that they will offer Direct Operator Billing (DoB) across its properties.

For many, DoB is a ‘no brainer’ for communications providers to offer to customers. It increases customer loyalty for a start, merchants should like it, as it requires no investment in expensive terminals and it increases purchases themselves – by 400 percent. Already £10 million has been processed this way via Charge to Mobile.

The reason that every communications provider is not immediately jumping on the bandwagon is simply one of choice. The real time processes and platforms that are being implemented around the world will support a myriad of service offerings – from roaming packs to VoLTE and a host of partnership based offerings. Many will shy away from the perception (and in many cases the reality) of the complexity, scrutiny and security needed to deliver DoB. 

Charge to Mobile, although just recently announced in the UK, is actually part of the much wider roll out of the BlueVia service globally, which is now available to 400 million customers. Telefonica is working with Telenor as a partner and has avoided the trap of trying to develop a payments application by committee – a strategy that has failed on several occasions among members of the GSMA.

Perhaps the key to being able to offer charge to mobile type services is being a global player, where the local currencies and regulations will already be known to you. Otherwise, like Rogers has done in Canada, operators will be locked into a national service.

The key to success is through a strategy of open APIs and working with partners (as in payments, as in almost every service that operators will be offering in the future). When working with merchants who are being bombarded with any number of new and exciting ways of extracting money from their customers a simple way to plug in and play is critical.

And talking of Play, the service in the UK is only available on Google Play (as is Etisalsat’s service), because it is ‘the largest app store in the world.’ But also because Apple still won’t – play that is.

Click here to see our survey Infographic from last year, showing that 30 million customers in the US are willing to give DoB a try.

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
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.

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