The following interesting story comes out of Telecoms.com recently titled: ‘Fixed-web services billed on mobile emerge as revenue stream’.
The article states that purchase of virtual goods on fixed-internet sites is emerging as one of the strongest growth areas in mobile billing, according to market sources. But some warn that mobile-billed web services could fall prey to scammers, further damaging the already sullied image of paying for content on phones.
It gives, as example, numerous online services, such as multiplayer games, social networks and virtual worlds, in which users are encouraged to buy paraphernalia for avatars and gaming characters or digital gifts to send fellow community members – and mobile is a popular alternative to credit and debit cards in paying for such goods.
Mobile transactions for services used on PCs are helping compensate for the flagging growth in revenue from mobile content staples, such as ring tones and wallpapers, Andrew Bud, executive chairman of mobile billing aggregator mBlox and global chairman of industry association the Mobile Entertainment Forum, told Informa Telecoms & Media.
The heyday of handset-personalization products – what Bud calls “digital jewelry” – is over, he says. And the fastest-growing line of business for mBlox is mobile-billed PC services.
Bud says it’s the swiftness, simplicity and ubiquity of mobile billing that makes it an attractive payment option for online services. But another important factor is the age of the users of online communities.
They are predominantly young, and many are still under 18 years old, which means they cannot hold a credit card or bank account. And since paying by cash is not an option on web sites, and online payment services, such as PayPal, are normally linked to credit/debit cards, prepaid mobile credit is a useful alternative.
Most teenagers in developed markets own a mobile phone, and mostly on a prepaid basis.
There are a growing number of mobile payment applications that plug into web sites, and users register by simply typing in their mobile number. An SMS is then typically sent to their phone, to which they have to reply to confirm their request to sign up. “There are a number of variations on this, depending on provider,” Bud says.
One such app was recently introduced on social network Facebook, for example.
I wonder how many of our mobile operator members have cottoned on to this and are offering similar services. I’d certainly like to hear about them!