Carrier billing services are growing. They streamline the payment process and the companies that have developed these services are now pushing the high-tech giants to forge partnerships with them to incorporate this functionality.

Boku enables you to pay for your parking spot with a text message

‘Carrier billing’ – i.e. paying for goods and services by adding the amount to your phone bill – is now booming. These m-payments services allow mobile phone users to pay for a range of products, especially on social networks and online app stores by using telephone credit which can be activated directly by sending a text message. Strangely enough this is not really new but one of the oldest forms of mobile payment, conceived when the first devices came on the market, to enable the user to buy such electronic goods as screen ‘wallpaper’ or special ring tones. These days however this service has become essential to the functioning of the app market, estimated to be worth close to $25 billion. And now several players are making an effort to integrate these mobile services further into our everyday lives.

Carrier billing now on the attack in the ‘real’ world

Boku, the San Francisco-based carrier billing firm, initially rolled out its services on a number of online platforms and social networks. Now, in a bid to extend its market into the offline world, the company has just announced its first partnership in a very down-to-earth sector – parking.  Boku is to collaborate with PassportParking, a provider of cloud-based parking management solutions, so as to enable residents of a number of major US cities to pay for a parking spot by sending an SMS from their phone. This might, in the not too distant future, put an end to annoying guesswork when feeding a parking meter. This incursion of an originally online service into our daily practical lives marks an important step and we are likely to see more widespread use of carrier billing.  Boku uses the same technology as that at the core of its original value chain, with PassportParking users paying their bill directly as part of their phone bill. The amount is deducted from the service package managed through the operating company and a named bank account or digital wallet.

Trend impacting the e-commerce and mobile giants

The carrier billing trend is now gaining traction, affecting digital players across the board, as Boku Chief Business Officer Jon Prideaux underlines. “Over the last year, carrier billing has really come into its own as a preferred payment method on new devices, from Smart TVs to game consoles,” he points out. A few months ago Amazon announced a partnership with Bango, one of the world’s leaders in carrier billing, to offer its customers the option of paying for their purchase with telephone credit. This partnership will take effect through an Amazon application for Android devices, a pointer to the fact that the carrier billing trend is spreading both among e-commerce players and producers of connected devices – mobiles, tablets, etc. Microsoft is also now offering the Bango app on its Windows Phone Store, initially targeting the South-East Asian market before taking the service global.


By Thomas Meyer
Journalist, Business Analyst