|Operator Billing: Best way to pay?|
The year 2011 has heralded a new telecom trend: Operator billing. During February 2011, Reliance became the first operator in India to bring the idea of Carrier Billing into effect for Nokia's Ovi Store. This means that any application downloads would be reflected in either the monthly bills of the subscriber or would be deducted from the pre-paid balance of the users while using the SIM card details for identification. Considering that the Ovi Store clocks over a million download per week, this deal is quite lucrative for Nokia. But since most of the other operators already have their own application stores, the competition is expected to be intense.
For customers, Direct Operator Billing means reduced paperwork and registration, no SMS, no short codes or multiple clicks which enables them to complete a monetary transaction or make a purchase on an anywhere-anytime basis. For operators, who are looking for new ways to generate income through monetising content and digital services, the concept of operator billing is an extremely welcome method which is reliable and flexible at once.
Operator billing allows an operator to capitalize immediately on the frenzy surrounding the new application available for downloads. Besides, if an operator does not have a billing relationship with third-party merchants or application stores, there is a possibility of significant loss of revenues. With the number of Smartphone sales showing an increasing trend, the number of consumers who are browsing and using the portals of service providers, is also proliferating. With the trend likely to continue, operator billing would be a wise decision to make, especially in countries like India where the use of credit cards, still, has some stigma attached to it. Besides, the biggest hassle this alternative can take care of, is nullifying the need to enter sensitive credit card details. The most important thing is: having nothing to do with credit cards, operator billing would allow a lot more subscribers to participate. In situations where a subscriber is not eligible for credit cards or even bank accounts, can one dare to say that operator billing is a relief?
The real time charging involved in the carrier billing enables cost-cutting and strengthens the operator's positions in the market as a reliable vendor. The ease of billing for operators while maximising their revenue streams through the direct settlement process, has addressed the key business objectives of the service providers, by helping them retain their loyal customer base and reducing churn and turning the market ripe for growth, into a financial bonanza. As far as applications remain an important way to reach out to the customers, operator billing is expected to take over in a big way. Operator billing, actually, fits the bill!