Mobile payments platform provider Bango has launched its first carrier billing integration on Google Play. The service went live on 4 December 2012 on Australian mobile network operator Telstra and connects the Bango Payment Platform to the Google Play Store, allowing subscribers to purchase digital content without the need to send SMS messages or use credit cards. Users can purchase content, paying through their phone bill, without the need to register personal details.
The platform further provides purchase data analytics that allows network operators to optimize conversion rates. Bango already provides billing support for Facebook, BlackBerry App World, Opera Mobile Store and services for Amazon and MasterCard's PayPass mobile wallet.
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.