Telkom South Africa has teamed up with mobile payments specialist Bango to launch carrier billing for purchases on the Google Play app store in what the companies say is a first for Africa.
Telkom SA is using the Bango Payment Platform to provide the service to its Android customers, giving them access to a payment method that enables mobile operators to charge a customer directly for the cost of app store purchases on their mobile phone bills.
The introduction of carrier billing for Android users makes sense in Africa, where IDC estimates that the Google mobile operating system accounts for 89 per cent of the smartphone market at present. Apple iOS accounts for just 7 per cent of the market in the region, according to the research company.
IDC further noted that the strong growth in Africa's smartphone market is largely being driven by the emergence of low-priced devices that are primarily powered by Android. Indeed, almost half of all the smartphones shipped across Africa (45.1 per cent) in the first quarter of 2015 were priced below $100 (€88), while almost 75 per cent fall under $200.
For operators that are selling these devices and mobile plans to customers, carrier billing can help them to fight back in the face of competition from over-the-top services such as Skype, WhatsApp and others, Bango said. The payments company added that it routinely sees increases in digital content sales of 300-400 per cent where carrier billing is introduced to fast-growing emerging markets such as in Africa.
Attila Vitai, MD of mobile and consumer at Telkom, said the introduction of carrier billing for Google Play is part of the company's efforts to streamline and simplify customer services.
"This partnership with Bango provides Telkom customers with a seamless experience for purchasing apps from Google Play and charging them directly to their mobile phone bill or airtime," Vitai added.
According to a Juniper Research report from April, content paid for via carrier billing will provide operators with more than $14 billion in revenues over the next five years.
The research company added that existing deployments of carrier billing on app storefronts have produced a marked increase in paid conversion rates (more than 30 times those of credit cards in some instances). They have also enabled first-time monetisation of unbanked consumers and younger demographics.
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