Bango’s partnership with Telstra to offer carrier billing, follows similar moves made by US and European network operators. Telefonica’s BlueVia platform has provided operator-billing for Google Play in Spain and Germany since Q3 2012. Telenor has also partnered with BlueVia to provide further support for operator billing. Verizon Wireless also recently became the last of the top four US operators to launch its carrier billing when its service went live on 31 October 2012 on Google Play.
The rise in operators offering carrier billing services underscores a growing effort from both application store owners and mobile network operators to offer alternative payment options, increase conversion rates, and utilize new billing platforms to monetise and enhance the end-user experience. Globally, payment providers and application store owners (Bango, RIM, Nokia) report 1x – 3x times revenue growth with carrier billing versus credit cards. With carrier billing platforms in place, the role of network operators shifts to address the larger connected mobile ecosystem of merchants, developers and customers.
The move is a positive one for Google, which has been improving its ability to monetise Android content throughout 2012. IHS research indicates that while Google Play still generates lower content revenue per addressable device, it is starting to close the gap on Apple’s iOS App Store. Verizon’s recent move to support billing for Google Play at the same time as it announced the closure of its own application store, illustrates how in many countries operators are recognizing the reality of their new role in the mobile content ecosystem. As operator’s own content services decline, the ability to provide billing support for other stores will be a key way for them to retain some stake in the mobile content business.