Bango made an exciting announcement today: We’ve signed an agreement with Etisalat, to deploy Direct Operator Billing across the group’s markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The established partnership between Bango and Etisalat has already seen DOB launched for users of BlackBerry World. This new agreement will deliver further app store integrations, beginning today with Google Play.
The agreement is important on a number of levels:
- The Middle East is an emerging and strategically valuable market. Device numbers across the region are expected to almost double this year, from 67 million in 2013 to 112.2 million in 2014 (IDC). These new smartphone consumers are young – 44% of the population is under 20 years old – and hungry for apps, music, games and other digital content. Content consumption and ARPU are both high. But this is a region in which some of the traditional online payment giants have struggled. What’s changing now is that Direct Operator Billing, which piggy-backs on the mass market of phone and phone bill rather than credit card, is proving to be an ideal enabler for mobile commerce.
- This is another example of how mobile network operator groups are standardizing on the Bango Payment Platform as “the gold standard” for payment from mobile devices. By plugging into Bango, these operators achieve an unrivalled speed to revenue, and access Bango’s range of human and infrastructure resources which deliver continuous availability. Bango is now established as the de facto leader in operator billing for app stores, partnering with Amazon, Google Play, BlackBerry World, Windows Phone Store and others, bringing one-click payment to hundreds of millions of consumers. Significantly, Bango’s market hardened platform is the result of more than 500 man years and sees continuous innovation. Initiatives by single operator groups to build similar solutions have tended to be complex, costly and time-consuming. Now the large operator groups are starting to choose Bango.
- This agreement shows how operators can effectively harness their network assets through selective partnerships. Many mobile network operators had their fingers burned in the early years of digital content. By opening up their networks to a wide range of low quality Premium SMS aggregators they were able to secure some revenue from digital content sales, but at the cost of unreliable connections, a poor consumer experience and occasional fraud from “mobile cramming”. The situation today is much healthier, as operators reject Premium SMS and instead focus on robust, “genuine” operator billing that uses direct API connections to place a charge on a phone bill. In this world, instead of taking a card number and billing through a card processor, Bango uses a phone number and processes the charge through the customer’s phone bill. Just as a few card processors deliver this first generation on-line payment service, in the mass market world of smart phones a specialist like Bango is able to deliver the technology, scale and cost efficiencies to enable mobile app stores to leverage carrier billed payments globally.
As the smartphone base in the Middle East continues to grow, Bango will reach an ever-widening pool of consumers for one-click payment. This partnership with Etisalat will see further app store integrations in the months to come, and we’re proud to say that we now have more than 130 direct operator connections in place globally.