There’s a certain assumption about mobile payments, namely that it’s not really happening yet. But that overlooks direct carrier billing.
Direct carrier billing, which first came into use several years ago for buying ringtones and wallpaper, has advanced far beyond its origins. Today, thanks to the rise of smartphones, it has become a convenient way for developers to monetize their apps, and a powerful tool for mobile operators to grab a piece of the “app economy” that’s estimated to be worth $25 billion.
Carrier billing lets wireless subscribers place the cost of a purchase for a digital good on their monthly phone bill. It’s facilitated by providers who tap into the billing systems of carriers around the world, connecting billions of consumers to a quick, easy way to make a mobile payment.
Direct carrier billing is especially useful to people who lack access to basic financial services, such as consumers in developing markets or younger consumers without bank or credit accounts.
And in some countries, it is now pushing beyond digital goods to offer a payment alternative for things such as ticketing and feeding parking meters.
If you’re new to direct carrier billing, this infographic presented by Mobile Payments Today and the technology company Amdocs provides a good primer. It illustrates how carrier billing is used now and explores how it might be applied in the future, giving consumers boarding a bus or rooting for their local team the ability to say, “Put it on my bill.”