Jan. 23, 2013
Direct carrier biller BilltoMobile announced its platform is now available for U.S. Cellular subscribers. This means the Chicago-based carrier's nearly 6 million subscribers can buy digital goods and services through BilltoMobile and place the purchase on their monthly U.S. Cellular bill. BilltoMobile is one of the first carrier billers to offer direct integration with the carrier.
While the U.S. Cellular deal may not be huge in raw numbers (the company's subscriber base is small compared to Verizon Wireless' 110 million customers), it represents BilltoMobile's continuing efforts to forge direct connections to wireless carriers, making it possible for digital merchants to offer a carrier payment option. With the U.S. Cellular agreement, BilltoMobile now directly processes payments for all the top U.S. carriers, reaching 286 million U.S. wireless subscribers (which is more than 90 percent of the available market).
As a payment option, direct carrier billing is especially attractive to consumers who may lack access to credit or debit accounts to pay for online content, for instance younger consumers using mobile devices to access gaming sites and social networks. (Reportedly, content through app markets like Google Play and Windows Marketplace also use BilltoMobile to process payments to U.S. carrier bills, though the company couldn't confirm that.) Through direct carrier billing, merchants and developers can offer this very attractive demographic a convenient, secure payment method as well as offering digital merchants additional tools like device identification or recurring payments.
"By moving away from older payment technologies and integrating payment services through the BilltoMobile platform, U.S. Cellular is now offering the most advanced opportunity for online merchants looking to increase customer monetization online," said BiltoMobile's Manish Vichare, the company's head of engineering, in the announcement.
In a call with Mobile Payments Today, BilltoMobile's CEO Jim Greenwell said the U.S. Cellular deal shows an ongoing trust that carrriers place in his company's platform and services. But beyond that, Greenwell said BilltoMobile's success in carrier billing is testimony to the growth of mobile payments in general.
Greenwell said that the key to success in payments is the ability to eliminate friction from the entire process. As a relatively frictionless form of payment, customers can complete their transactions in only a few clicks, direct carrier billing is a introducing consumers to the concept of mobile payments.
"While other (mobile payment methods) are still taking off, we've processed $7 billion," Greenwell said. "We're getting people used to paying by phone."
And according to Greenwell, payment is just the beginning of what that frictionless connection to a carrier can offer. He said that eventually the connection will expand to include other services like authentication and even offering access to other forms of payment.
BilltoMobile is the U.S. subsidiary of South Korean mobile payment company Danal Co. LTD. The San Jose, Calif.-based BilltoMobile processes transactions in more than 82 countries.
Read more about direct carrier billing.