NEW YORK, February 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
According to a recent report in Android Headlines1, the long-awaited alliance between Google and India's largest mobile carrier, Bharti Airtel, to offer Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) has finally come to pass. On the table since at least 2014, the deal would give Airtel's nearly 40 million data subscribers the ability to purchase apps and digital content from the Google Play Store without having to submit banking information. This collaboration shows that DCB has come into its own. It won't be long before Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), First Data Corp (NYSE: FDC), Square, Inc. (NYSE: SQ), PayPal, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL), Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE) and other DCB outfits find they are on the right bandwagon.
Google has inked a similar deal for the Indian market with British carrier Vodafone, suggesting DCB is on the cusp of rapid widespread acceptance. It's worth noting that the payment trend is taking root among smaller players, as well as industry behemoths like Google. One such example is global technology company Net Element (NETE).
Ranked as one of South Florida Business Journal's Top 25 Fastest-Growing Technology Companies, Net Element specializes in mobile payments and value-added transactional services. The company has oriented itself for growth in emerging economies and the U.S., actively seeking opportunities to transform the online and mobile experience with a multi-channel platform, simplified security and compliance, essentially providing an all-in-one digital solution.
Aligned with this growth strategy, Net Element offers DCB through its Digital Provider subsidiary. As one of several companies under the Net Element brand, Digital Provider works with the largest mobile operators in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as select emerging markets, to offer content providers, social media networks, game developers and other merchants a broad array of payment options, including DCB.
What Net Element has discovered is consumer appeal of DCB - which is that it gives a mobile subscriber the convenient ability to purchase content such as apps, games and music and, rather than make a separate transaction, have the charge put on his or her telephone bill.
Unlike making purchases with debit and credit cards, DCB does not require banking information. With DCB, a mobile provider supplies the third-party provider with just enough details to enable shipment of the content. The mobile provider pays the third party for the content and then sends the customer the bill at the end of the month.
It's no accident that Google has chosen to expand its partnerships in India, where mobile phones far outstrip bank accounts. According to a global market report by Fortumo, called Direct Carrier Billing in 2016, Asia Pacific is set to overtake Latin America as the region with the largest transaction volume in carrier billing in 2017.
DCB volume in India grew by 175 percent in 2016 with a potential for further triple-digit expansion. With a population of 1.3 billion, the country has an estimated one billion mobile phone subscribers. However, smartphone penetration is just 20 percent. As Indians replace their old mobiles with smartphones, DCB is likely to become a major payment method.
The Fortumo report also highlights the Philippines and Australia, which together with India are the countries with the top growth markets in the Asia Pacific region.
At present, mobile phone billing, as the folks at Apple (AAPL) call DCB, is available to customers of its iTunes Store, App Store and iBooks Store who live in Belgium, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates. It's worth noting that the United States isn't on the list.
For the most part, Net Element is among the first businesses in the United States to offer DCB services, though companies like First Data Corp. could awaken to the opportunity and follow suit.
First Data (FDC) is a global payment technology company best known for its STAR inter-bank network. The company reportedly handles 45% of all U.S. credit and debit card transactions, but expansion there has been slow. First Data (FDC) is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter results before the market opens on February 13.
San Francisco-based Square, Inc. (SQ) - creator of the Square Reader that attaches to mobile phones and allows consumers to use debit and credit cards, as well as the Square Register point-of-sale software that can be used in lieu of traditional card terminals and cash registers - is also evolving the broader digital payment landscape. The company recently announced (http://nnw.fm/lMw7q) "a limited-time program that will allow small businesses to process more than $12,000 in Apple Pay payments for free (a $350 value) as an incentive for them to encourage their customers to use the payment method."
PayPal (PYPL) is also moving the scale toward DCB in the United States. Back in 2012 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the company announced its plans to work with carriers and digital merchants to expand carrier payments. Today the company offers its Tele2 product, enabling subscribers to "top-up" their PayPal balances through their mobile phone bills - meaning the users can transfer money from their bank accounts into their PayPal (PYPL) accounts.
Fortumo forecasts that, while Latin America boasts the biggest transaction volume for carrier billing, Asia Pacific is likely to take the leading spot in 2017. Perhaps one snag for DCB in the United States is consumer concern over data security. However, as an increasing number of consumers abroad take advantage of the conveniences of DCB, the market on American soil is ripe for companies like Net Element (NETE) to take a leading start.
- Android Headlines: http://nnw.fm/V4c1V
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