Pay by phone: We’ve had to wait a while, but here’s Payforit

Once again the mobile services industry find itsekf at a tipping point; this time it’s mobile payments — again. Christopher Dadd extols the bottom line benefits of a new industry-wide billing scheme…

The mobile internet is growing significantly as operators open up their portals and adopt flat rate browsing models, whilemobile content – video clips, games, music and personalisation services – continue to demonstrate a sustained proven demand.

Yet again, however, we’re suffering when it comes to building consumer confidence – not least in the area of billing and payments. Premium SMS has served a purpose, but ultimately its lack of transparency (not helped by a significant amount of scaremongering amongst the bloggers, the media and other ‘watchdogs’) has limited its potential as a payment tool.

Consumers often do not know what they have been charged for, whilst the experience at the ‘checkout’ varies considerably between service providers.

Enter Payforit, a payment solution which will do for mobile what PayPal or WorldPay did for the web.

One of the many beauties of this scheme is that it enables payment for both mobile and internet content to be charged directly to the consumer’s mobile bill – all very transparent, all very straightforward – and without the need for a series of premium SMS messages.

Second, Payforit is a branded, common cross-network initiative, offering universality and clarity – two factors which have been proven to increase the uptake of any mobile service.

“Enhancing confidence keeps consumers coming back for more …”

Finally, service providers wanting to utilise Payforit (and from September 2007, any transaction on the 02 network generated from a WAP session must do so), need to use an industry approved trusted party (Accredited Payment Intermediary) to integrate their mobile internet site with the Payforit scheme. The Intermediary delivers a common customer experience – ensuring that all payment screens are standardised and branded with the Payforit logo. Most importantly, the intermediary takes away the headache of the billing process – leaving the retailers to do what they are good at: retailing.

Confidence The sum of this is an enhanced customer experience through greater consistency, transparency and ease of use – ultimately resulting in much improved customer confidence, satisfaction and trust.

If Payforit renews confidence in mobile services we’ll be a long way down the road to reaching the great potential which still exists for all of us. But the benefits stretch way beyond that.

Enhancing confidence keeps consumers coming back for more. It increases retailing and merchandising opportunities.

When the consumer has completed their purchase, they will be returned to the service provider’s portal pages to continue browsing. They’ll have the chance to opt in to receive marketing communications from the service provider – which they’ll be much more inclined to do if they feel confidence in the vendor and the Payforit brand.

The standardised scheme also makes it easier to gain incremental business through mobile search engines. And with the scheme applying to digital goods and services consumed via both the Web and WAP, Payforit represents an excellent opportunity to increase web retail sales as the mobile and online worlds converge.

Benefits If that’s not enough to convince you, two other huge benefits of Payforit are improved billing success rates and reduced administration costs. Payforit checks the customer’s mobile account balance before accepting the transaction. The transaction is then securely recorded which gives the reassurance of a guaranteed payment once it has been accepted. Support costs are reduced because service providers are no longer required to host WAP payment pages within their portals; whilst the simplified purchasing and auditing process helps to reduce billing issues and therefore lower customer complaints – leading to further savings.

 
Payforit will lead to an improved customer experience and enhanced consumer confidence in using the mobile to pay for good and services, through an industry wide, trusted payment scheme.

It will mean more transactions. Service providers will want to ensure that their mobile internet sites are integrated with Payforit, and benefiting from their association with the brand. Getting involved is not as daunting as you might think, with mobile solution providers like WIN delivering propositions that allow you to integrate to and start using Payforit in less than a week.

As you read this, Payforit is gaining in stature as more service providers and consumers come onboard. Once all of the major network operators implement direct WAP billing this growth will accelerate further, and over time it will replace Premium SMS billing for services and content downloads delivered from a WAP or web site.

I think that’s what they call a ‘no-brainer’.

AUTHOR Christopher Dadd is Head of Interactive at WIN. WIN is an enabler of entertainment, information and interaction services in the rapidly evolving converged media environment, and one of a select few Accredited Payment Intermediaries for the Payforit scheme.