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There’s a certain assumption about mobile payments, namely that it’s not really happening yet. But that overlooks direct carrier billing.

Direct carrier billing, which first came into use several years ago for buying ringtones and wallpaper, has advanced far beyond its origins. Today, thanks to the rise of smartphones, it has become a convenient way for developers to monetize their apps, and a powerful tool for mobile operators to grab a piece of the “app economy” that’s estimated to be worth $25 billion.

Carrier billing lets wireless subscribers place the cost of a purchase for a digital good on their monthly phone bill. It's facilitated by providers who tap into the billing systems of carriers around the world, connecting billions of consumers to a quick, easy way to make a mobile payment.

Direct carrier billing is especially useful to people who lack access to basic financial services, such as consumers in developing markets or younger consumers without bank or credit accounts. And in some countries, it is now pushing beyond digital goods to offer a payment alternative for things such as ticketing and feeding parking meters.

If you’re new to direct carrier billing, this infographic presented by Mobile Payments Today and the technology company Amdocs provides a good primer. It illustrates how carrier billing is used now and explores how it might be applied in the future, giving consumers boarding a bus or rooting for their local team the ability to say, "Put it on my bill."

Feel free to share the infographic using the toolbar at the top of this post. You can also copy the code at the bottom of the page if you want to post the infographic along with proper attribution on your blog or site.

Let us know in the comment section below if there are other use cases where you're using mobile payments already.

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Latest posts by Cary Stemle
Cary Stemle
Cary Stemle has more than 20 years of experience in print and online journalism, covering business, public affairs, politics, sports, arts and culture and more. He has a bachelor's degree in history and an associate's degree in journalism from Indiana University Southeast. He joined Mobile Payments Today in July 2013.
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