Bango delivers refund remedy for off-portal mobile services

Bango today has released the results of a new study which shows that mobile content sales generated through off-portal WAP sites (mobile websites) deliver a huge reduction in after-sale customer care costs. Compared to the traditional Premium SMS off-portal content model, where refunds can be between 10-20% of sales*, off-portal WAP sites result in refunds for fewer than 1% of transactions, on average.
“This data confirms that the mobile web model is great for browsing and buying content because the point of payment and download are tightly coupled in one seamless WAP flow, leading to fewer errors and low refund levels,” said Bango CEO Ray Anderson. “Presenting a payment experience already familiar to users from the PC web and operator mobile portals, WAP is completely transparent and provides consumers with full disclosure of costs and conditions of purchase before they are billed any money.”
The headline growth in mobile content revenue has been strong, especially off-portal sales where content providers market and sell direct to mobile consumers and typically bill them through operator–enabled SMS messages. However, the problems that arise when relying entirely on SMS to drive sales include:
Billed but Unfulfilled
The consumer is billed through Premium SMS but then cannot access the content due to connection problems, handset incompatibility or operator network limitations. In contrast, if the user cannot access the WAP site to get their content, they cannot be billed. Mobile websites use device detection to verify that the content is compatible with the user’s device and only then is the user asked to pay for their chosen content.
Reliance on small print
The mobile industry provides clear and concise Best Practice guidelines for services using SMS, but the consumer needs to read and understand the terms either from a text message sent to their handset or on the print of the original advertisement. With the WAP presentation, the consumer is advised of all the terms of sale on-screen immediately before they are billed without having to refer to separate messages or the original ad.
During the month of May, Bango reported just 142 refunds per 100,000 transactions; customer queries were closer to 70 per 100,000 transactions. So compelling is the data for off-portal WAP that network operators in Europe are showing a strong preference for this model and in the UK, WAP billing through the cross-operator “Payforit” scheme is being mandated.
“We are working closely with content providers and operators in the US to advocate WAP as a much better service model for off-portal mobile content,” added Anderson.
* Source: iGillott, Qpass, 2006