When optimising payment flows for the mobile web (and WAP), it is important to find the right option for your online business. Some flows work well for certain businesses but not others, so in this article, we will take a look at a number of different mobile billing options and analyse the pros and cons as well as the customer experience.

Mobile operator billing offers clear benefits in terms of conversion rates, but by choosing the right type for your business, you can increase billing uptake even more.

Direct Operator Billing
Also known as Direct Carrier Billing, this offers a quick and easy payment flow for the end-user. This involves the user entering their mobile phone number, and straight away, being charged to their bill or pre-paid credit. It is, however, not available in every country due to network restrictions or non-implantation. DOB typically involves PIN (OTP) authentication to validate the customers MSISDN.

Single Click Mobile PaymentsMSISDN Flow (Header Enrichment)
With MSDISN Forwarding (or MSISDN capture) the user doesn’t need to enter their mobile number as it is already detected. They can simply click to purchase. This only works when the user is using their mobile internet on networks that facilitate this enrichment. This is also referred to as WAP Billing.

USSD Messaging (Flash SMS) for OTP delivery
In this flow, the user enters their phone number, receives a message and enters the PIN (OTP) to complete the purchase.

When direct operator billing or MSDISN Forwarding isn’t available (supported by a mobile network), you may not want to push your users away from your mobile page or mobile app to read an SMS message with the OTP.

USSD for Mobile Payments

By using a USSD flow, the user can receive a USSD (FLASH SMS) notification, which shows up over the top of the mobile webpage or app, with a short, OTP (One Time Password) or PIN. They can then enter that to complete the transaction.  Not exiting the session (mobile web page or app).

Read more on USSD Messaging.

In some markets like India, USSD is used as a primary mechanism to deliver an OTP to a mobile customer. It comes into its own in markets where no MSISDN forwarding or direct billing is available.

Read more about our USSD Gateway.

Use of USSD enables increased transactions by keeping the user from exiting the session, whether it be on mobile web (WAP) or mobile app. This, as an alternative to using SMS as the primary delivery option for the OTP, reduces the amount of work done by the end-user, resulting in more completed transactions.

It is possible to successfully use USSD to deliver an OTP when MT (Mobile Terminated) Billing is available and Pure Direct Billing is not supported by a network directly.

Tip! We recommend sending an SMS at the same time as sending the USSD Flash message for record keeping and audit purposes (USSD messages do not get saved on the handset like SMS).

This Billing type with USSD hybrid to deliver an OTP is available  in the following markets:

Canada
China
Hong Kong
Indonesia
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Malaysia
Netherlands
Norway
Slovakia
Switzerland
Taiwan
Turkey
United Kingdom

Contact us to discuss how your business can benefit from mobile billing with USSD notifications.

We work with many dating and social sites across the web. Some use mobile billing alongside other methods of payment i.e. credit card, others have moved to just supporting purely Mobile Billing – ‘Pay by Mobile’ due to the huge benefits it brings.

The most common use of ‘Pay by Mobile’ across dating and social sites can be seen in two main areas:

Virtual Currency

Example:

Pay by Mobile

For low cost ‘virtual’ items, mobile billing is key. Who wants to pay on their credit card for a product under 10 euro when they can charge instantly to their phone account, seamlessly.

Virtual Items

 

Memberships

Example:

Loveleap Mobile Site

Allow users to pay for membership for a week or a month using Operator Billing. Pay by SMS!

 

Uplift from using Direct Operator Billing

Sites that use our billing report an uplift in sales unlike any other billing platform. On mainstream sites mobile billing has seen a 20%+ increase to their existing revenues from customer payments. Mobile Billing is the most common and ubiquitous tool and of course dating and social sites realise consumer choice is always a positive in terms of end-user conversions.

In mobile dating, customers are also attracted to the anonymity that mobile operator billing provides. Combine this with the level of credit card penetration in many worldwide markets being low. So, mobile billing, is even more important in these markets.

Speed to pay

No forms to fill out. Everyone has a mobile phone. Not everyone has a credit card or wants to use it for dating or social sites.

All the customers need to do to pay is send an SMS (or click a link!). We handle everything else from that point on. Several seconds later and the payment is made. Perfect for digital items such as Virtual Currency as example above.

2013 : Mobile Billing and Mobile Marketing

As expected by many, 2013 has seen a huge increase in the number of smartphones in use across the world, as well as more people using their handsets to access the internet. This has had an impact on the mobile billing and messaging industries, with a growing need to expand into more and more markets throughout the year.

Recent research by eMarketer suggests that there are now 30.9m smartphone users in the UK, which is over 60% of all mobile users. According to research reported in Marketing Magazine earlier in the year, over 50% of the global population accesses mobile internet at least once a week, with 35% using it daily.

Global Coverage
With a finger firmly on the pulse of the industry, txtNation made some big steps forward, catering to the growing demand. 2013 has seen txtNation expand its global reach, with direct connectivity in Switzerland and Belgium and the launch of 4T Mobile Payments in Denmark.

As mobile billing becomes more and more popular in the United Kingdom, Payforit released version 4 of its payment solution. In November, it was announced that version 4.4 would be released, with a number of changes to improve the customer experience. As a brand, Payforit has made an impact, with consumer trust growing, which can only be a good thing for businesses that accept mobile payments in the UK.

As txtNation expanded globally in its coverage, a number of new appointments in relevant markets were made. Matt Barbieri, joined as Territory Manager for Africa, Andrew Rippon as Territory Manager for the Middle East and most recently, Hans Tjolle was appointed Territory Manager for Benelux.

External Changes
During quarter 3 of 2013, it was announced that mobile networks in Ireland would be blocking any off-net or foreign traffic. This has looked to become a trend throughout other countries too, which is bad news for those offering low quality messaging routes, but better for businesses in the long run, as they will have less chance of working with aggregators who offer these cheaper options.

In the summer, Sweden’s WyWallet scrapped its registration process, as it looked to improve the customer journey and increase conversion rates. Mobile payments in the Nordics has been healthy over the last year, with the networks really working hard to build consumer trust.

In the United States, new regulations came into force from the Mobile Network Operators, stopping charges for premium SMS, meaning businesses can no longer use PSMS as a solution for monetizing services in the USA. This came into effect in November of this year.

For txtNation, 2013 was a big year, as not only did we reach our 10th birthday, following our growth from a bedroom business in 2002, but we also expanded, by acquiring South Africa and UK based 24G Media. We launched USSD menus and released our next generation control panel, MytxtNation.

Calvinayre.comMobile Payments for iGaming
Gaming and Gambling is one industry that has shown a lot of recent growth on mobile, and mobile payments has, in 2013, become a talking point for many operators. This year, txtNation attended many gaming and gambling specific events, including EiG Totally Gaming in Barcelona, Mobile Marketing Magazine’s Mobile Gaming and Gambling Summit, mGaming Summit, Social Gaming Summit and Mobile and Tablet Gambling Summit, where our CEO, Michael Whelan was interviewed by Rebecca Liggero of Calvin Ayre.com about mobile payments.

2013 Awards and Achievements
This year saw us nominated for the Effective Mobile Marketing Awards in the ‘Best m-commerce solution’ category for our flagship ‘plug-and-pay’ billing solution JunglePay. We were named among Top 50 Mobile Innovators by Mobile Entertainment Magazine and nominated in the ‘Best Mobile Payments Company’ category in the Mobile Entertainment Awards as well as numerous others.

Mobile has grown in importance in 2013, with many businesses seeing the need to optimise the full user journey, from marketing and website to payment process. We have seen some exciting stories develop in mobile payments, with Buy Game Credit enabling Xbox players to purchase points via their handsets, and mobile dating site BeFlirty seeing a huge increase in revenue following their integration of Payforit with txtNation.

If you would like to discuss mobile billing and mobile messaging with us, to help your business increase profits in 2014, please contact us.

USSD has become widely accepted for services including banking, surveys, special offers and news updates, especially in countries in Africa, where internet access is often unreliable or scarce. What makes USSD ideal for use in Africa?

When marketing to an audience in a “3G blind-spot”, it is important to consider what your end users can or cannot access. Parts of Africa often have limited 3G coverage and a lack of broadband connectivity, however, USSD is available on more than 99% of mobile handsets currently in use around the world.

Banking / Secure Account Management
Offering customer the opportunity to access their bank account or other secure information as well as editing it on the go is key for customer retention, but in African countries with a lack of internet coverage, security can be an issue.

Updating details online can be secure, however, when if this is not an option, we need to look at alternatives. SMS is generally not secure enough as when the customer receives a text message, it is stored in their inbox. USSD menus, however, are not saved. By using USSD menus for account editing and USSD messaging for notifications (e.g. account balance), you can offer a high standard of customer experience without compromising security.

Surveys and Interaction
USSD menus can work well as a cost-effective form of two-way communication. Whether you would like quantitative customer data or to increase interactivity and relationships between your brand and customers, USSD allows you to do this more smoothly than SMS and on a mobile connection.

Offers and Alerts
USSDnotifications can be used to inform customers of an offer or a time-sensitive piece of news, and can reach a wide audience cheaply, uninterrupted by a lack of internet coverage. From a customer service point of view, the notifications don’t fill up the user’s inbox either.

One of the quickest developing mobile markets, Africa has seen access to mobile phones climb five-fold in the last five years. There is huge potential for reaching customers across the continent, and USSD can help your business do that.

Find out more on our USSD Menu Wiki Page, read our common FAQs and contact us to find out how it can benefit your business today.

USSD MenuWhat is USSD?
Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) allows high speed and interactive communication between businesses and end users. txtNation’s USSD Gateway provides has for some time provided the option of notifications, which are one time messages to a handset, with no interaction, but has recently introduced USSD Menus.

When communicating with your current and potential customers, you want to reach as many of them as possible. In some areas, when using web based promotions, a lack of broadband or 3G connection can be an obstacle, however USSD notifications and menus can be received through customers’ mobile networks, so poor 3G coverage doesn’t become a problem.

Why use USSD?
These days, we may be able to take advantage of more modern technologies when contacting customers, but the necessities of building trust, being relevant and being personal are still at the forefront of marketing. USSD notifications and menus are perfectly equipped for you to do this.

Unlike SMS, USSD notifications and menus are not stored on the device, which makes it safer for storing secure passwords or other sensitive information. It also uses a real-time connection, allowing session-based communication, ideal for customer service.

A good customer experience builds brand loyalty. USSD notifications and menus can dramatically improve the experience, giving you the ability to quickly and cost-effectively send essential and useful alerts to your customers, engage in interaction and send important information.

What is USSD used for?
These are the types of services in use today:

Banking: menus can be used to offer a customer secure access to their account. The non-permanent factor of USSD menus (they are not stored on the phone) and the quickness suits any business wanting to offer their customers the opportunity to access private information on their handset.

Surveys: USSD menus can work well as real-time surveys, cheaply and quickly.

Special Offers: Notifications can inform your customers of a last minute deal. As handsets need to be switched on for these to be received (with no ability to re-send the message) it means that you can be sure that those you contact will not receive the message when it is too late.

News Updates: Customers can receive news updates straight to their phones without filling their inbox.

Although USSD has been around for some time now, only the surface has been scratched in terms of its uses. This cost-effective, secure and quick service opens up plenty opportunities for customer engagement through updates, interaction and important alerts.

Find out more on our USSD Menu Wiki Page, read our common FAQs and contact us to find out how it can benefit your business today.

Following on from the release of USSD notifications (flash messages) in Quarter 2 of this year, txtNation is delighted to announce the availability of its USSD Menu Gateway, enabling clients to cost-effectively facilitate real-time communications between themselves and their end users.

USSD Menu

This low-cost service allows businesses to engage in longer-form communication with their customers than can be provided in one SMS message and does not rely on a 3G connection, opening up opportunities to target “3G blindspots.”

USSD

USSD Menu Screenshot

USSD menus can be accessed virtually any mobile network and can be displayed by on 99% of handsets, further increasing its international potential.

txtNation’s Chief Business Development Officer, Danny Marino, commented: “We believe the addition of the USSD menus to our portfolio of solutions should allow service providers more options to reach and engage with their customers. Especially in low infrastructure territories such as Africa and Latin America. We can enable the technology and leave it to our clients to be creative with the customisation.”

Unlike SMS messaging, USSD is not stored on the end user’s phone, meaning this is a secure service which lends itself to use cases like banking services and account editing. Real-time interaction in the form of surveys is a clear potential use of USSD menus.

Find out more on our USSD Menu Wiki Page, read our common FAQs and contact us to find out how it can benefit your business today.