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Non-traditional Approaches to Accepting Mobile Payments

Clients are increasingly asking us about alternative methods of mobile payments to the well established 'Premium SMS', where a charge is settled via their monthly phone bill or pre-paid credit by sending or receiving an SMS message. 
Here are some of the available methods; if you would like to explore launching any of these, please speak to your account manager who can assist you with what's available in your target territory:

MSISDN Pass-through
The ability to have a user’s MSISDN recognized and recorded when they visit a WAP site on their handset. This allows service providers to automatically pick up the users MSISDN which is useful for various reasons. MSISDN is mainly used as an initiation mechanism allowing service providers with WAP sites to pick up the visiting users mobile number and trigger out a free SMS with call to action instructions for payments or promotions. MSISDN pass-through is available in most countries on special request from the operators.

WAP Billing 
WAP billing is designed for WAP-enabled mobile phones with a 3G or wireless connection.  The customer initiates a WAP session with the content service provider by browsing a WAP page, The WAP site picks up the visitor’s mobile number without the visitor having to register on a specific WAP gateway or service. This information is provided through integration with the operator's own MSISDN lookup service. Consumers can complete a purchase by clicking on a ‘confirm purchase’ link on their mobile phone and the WAP billing platform returns a confirmation which informs the WAP application of the completed transaction. Consumers can then be redirected to the content they have purchased. The purchases are deducted directly via the mobile phone bill using the users mobile number.

Direct Carrier Billing (a.k.a. Direct Operator Billing)

This enables service providers to take payments from users for mobile content directly via their handset. Clients are provided with a button that can be embedded in an application or on a URL, which when clicked initiates the payment without necessarily having to re-direct the user to another URL to confirm the payment. 

Unlike WAP billing DCB can be performed within mobile app environments as well. The payment journey is much like WAP billing however DCB promises to offer a credit lookup feature whereby a service provider can check in real-time that a user has enough credit on their account before attempting to complete the purchase.
DCB normally returns a higher % payout from operators but is only available on a special request, case by case basis.

This is a UK specific solution for mobile and online billing. To initiate a transaction, the user is presented with the Payforit opt-in instructions. It is controlled by the Payforit platform, ensuring the user is informed about pricing in a highly specific way. Payforit can bill mobile users with a single click by simply having users click on a button, it also has for users browsing online a pin and web link opt-in, which is where an MT message which follows a web-opt-in with PIN flow (WO-PIN), or they can send a text message in to confirm their opt-in (MO). You can read more about Payforit here.

Digital Mobile Wallet 
Typically with a Digital Wallet a user registers their credit/debit card to a service that authorizes transactions by them entering a username and password online. Although this method is well established, lesser adopted is the opportunity to authenticate a user via their mobile, for example by MSISDN Pass-through or sending the user's mobile a password that they then provide to you, which completes the transaction. 

Quick Response (QR) Code Payments 
A user scans a printed or digital bar code on their smartphone, which then directs the handset to a URL to make a payment via any of the above payment methods, e.g. Direct Carrier Billing, WAP billing, etc. There are various free applications available for download to allow users to scan barcodes, found by simply searching for "QR" in iTunes or the Android marketplace. Similar to Near Field Communication (below), but slower, as you have to launch the application then scan, and is limited to directing the user to a URL. 

Near Field Communication (NFC) Payments 
An emerging technology currently targeted at high street retailers, where a user moves their phone within 4cm of an NFC transmitting device, and authorizes the transaction. The charge can appear directly to a usersbank statement, monthly phone bill or a membership service such as iTunes. As NFC can make a handset perform a variety of actions, money could also be transferred via Direct Operator Billing, WAP Billing or Premium SMS.


With various sources announcing that tablets, laptops and PCs are going to be distributed with NFC, and also with mobiles enabling peer-to-peer NFC, this opens opportunities for virtual payments by swiping your cellphone to another NFC device. Analysts predict at least another 2 years (if at all) before there is any significant adoption of NFC.
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