Direct Operator Billing – Now Proven New Revenue Opportunity

It is one thing to read surveys (even our own) that say that 15 percent of Americans are ready to try Direct Operator Billing (DOB). It is quite a different thing to hear that DOB is a genuine and healthy new revenue stream for a global carrier. Listening in to a Mobile Payments Today webinar this week, it felt as if there was a quiet click, as of things falling quietly into place.

The first 30 minutes of the session were taken by DOB provider Bango, who ran through the background of ‘falling operator revenues, need to find next revenue stream, and, Oh, we did.’

The clever bit is not that Bango has built a platform that any operator can plug into via an API and thus have connections with a huge range of OTT players. The clever bit is that because they have a platform approach that plugs into the operators’ billing platforms they can do all that messy but vital authentication stuff across WiFi networks. Since over 75 percent of page views and over 95 percent of payments are done over WiFi, that is obviously critical.

Telefonica Digital, along with the Telenor Group is now offering DOB to a combined customer base of 400 million. Impressive as that figure is – and we do not know how many of those customers have smartphones or tablets – the best figure is that revenues from payments have increased by 300 percent. Credit card and PayPal transactions have suffered as a result. In Latin America that figure is closer to 1,000 percent because of the low penetration of credit cards. In fact the new Firefox Marketplace, aimed at that market, is the first application to have DOB ‘baked in.’

The Telefonica Digital initiative is refreshingly different from previous operator attempts at addressing payments – as one would expect. It is branded BlueVia and as Matthew Dicks, Head of Markering for the initiative, said, “we are not just another operator standardization initiative, we are working on enabling some of the bigger OTT ecosystems (and looking at new ones).”

The other interesting statistic came from a survey amongst the operators on the webinar. Asked which app stores they were planning on connecting to, almost half said Google Play, with Blackberry World (complimented by Dicks for its open approach) and Amazon trailing and Windows, Opera and Nokia getting ‘nul points.’ That said, 25 percent said ‘none of the above’ and 19 percent said ‘other.’

Inevitably, this brought up the ‘Apple’ question, who were not on the pre-prepared list – they do not ‘do’ DOB. Complimented by both speakers for their slick payments process, Dicks was asked whether he would like to connect to Apple. Of course, said Dicks, adding that it was not exactly a coincidence that they have an office in Mountain View.

Whether Apple play ball or not, it is clear that DOB has a rosy future, as long as it not confused with premium SMS services.

One click is all you need, no more.




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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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