Network operator’s main assets are now their customer base, payments provider Boku has told Mobile.
According to the global provider, operators are now using carrier billing to as a way to make money from this ‘real asset’.
The method of enabling users to purchase items using their mobile number is not new, but the asset shift from networks and licenses to a greater focus on customers and staff has seen MNO’s change their approach to billing services.
CEO Jon Prideaux described this as an ‘evolution’: ‘MNOs have been doing carrier billing for some time and are seeing the potential of being able to monetise their real assets, he told Mobile. ‘In the past this was networks and licenses, now their assets are their customer base, their staff and sales channel and carrier billing is where they can sell more when times are reasonably tough.
‘ARPU is going down and this is an extra source of revenue but it’s one that is not easily acceptable and it sits at lower margins. However they continue to come after this because it works and it helps to cement brand loyalty and increase stickiness.
The issue of carrier billing is one that has seen operators face a legal backlash relating to direct-to-bill fraud. Mobile recently reported that Vodafone is being taken to court over a scam that exploited the PayForIt carrier billing service. However the market is one where MNOs see huge opportunity, with a recent market review stating that the operator billing arena has the potential to generate £500m by 2019.
Taking advantage of this is Microsoft, who recently teamed up with Boku to launch a carrier billing services across the Windows 10 operating system. The tech giant has used this service in the past, but Prideaux explained that this new multi-platform approach ‘pioneers’ the different ways carrier billing can be used.
‘In the past operators may have used this idea and associated it with ringtones or wallpapers and the margins were very high and tech requirement wasn’t great. But if an MNO wants to work with a sophisticated company then they need to make changes to their system. There is a demand on them and it requires a level of investment but I can tell you there’s a queue of carriers making this investment and this is a start of a fairly decent roll-out.’