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Germany - Premium SMS, Short Code Requirements

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 The regulations in Germany caters and covers all of the Mobile Payment types, that include Premium SMS BillingStandard Rate Services and Short Codes.

 

Regulators

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The association "Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Telefonmehrwertdienste eV." (FST), English translation "The Association of self-control telephone services" was established in Düsseldorf in 1997. As a stakeholder of the German Value Added Services (VAS) industry, the entity pursues the implementation of a standard code of conduct in this industry to prevent fraudulent use of VAS and also exercises influence on the design of the political and legal framework the industry is restricted by. 

The FST Code of Conduct is intended to establish a generally accepted market standard. Although it is known as a voluntary Code, as it is adopted by the carriers, it is mandatory for service providers. The Code of Conduct is also intended to give providers of value-added telephone services an overview of key government regulations to be observed in the area of value-added services, and thereby to offer a secure basis for actions and planning when marketing and designing their services.[source]

Contained in an FST press announcement dated 29th October 2010 was "From now on Code of Conduct provides additional value by a TÜV-certification process." We are awaiting more information as to how this will effect premium SMS and if the TÜV-certification process will be applicable when applying for codes in Germany. 

 

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The FST code references a number of legislative documents stemming from the Federal Ministry of Justice, who set the general laws of the country. They draft legislation in the fields of law assigned to its remit, mainly in the fields of civil law, commercial and economic law, criminal law and procedural law of the different jurisdictions.

 

Despite there being no formal carrier guidelines available, the carriers are heavily involved in dispute resolution and will more likely be the ones that will take action if they deem your service to be in breach of regulations. 

 

Carriers

E-Plus

O2

TDC

T-Mobile

 

Vodafone

 

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Mobilcom

Your Phone

Graph: Germany Market Share by Mobile Subscribers' Carrier

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Market Statistics

Summary

The German mobile market has registered 1.3 percent growth in the first quarter upto March, according to a study by Dataxis Intelligence. This brings the country's mobile base to over 108 million in Q1, up from 107 million in the year-earlier period. The prepaid mobile subscriptions remain dominant, with prepaid subscribers accounting for 56 percent, down 1 percent compared to their level in 2009, of the 60 million market. As a comparison, in France post-paid customers weigh 72 percent of the country's nearly 57 million market, a pattern much more similar to the US, where 80 percent of mobile market is through contract. But Germany's dominant prepaid model may also be found in mobile markets such as UK with 58 percent of subscribers and overwhelmingly in Italy and Portugal that are traditional prepaid markets. [source]

General

Flag: txtNation_screenshot_Monday__November_15__2010_14.01.08.gif 

Capital: Berlin

Official language(s): German

Government: Republic

Area: 357.02 km

Population: 82,2100.00 inhabitants

Population density: 230.00/km

Currency: EUR

Time Zone: UTC +1 Calling

Country Dial Code: +49

Internet TLD: .de

[source]

Market Growth

General region↓ Total number of Internet users (thousands)↓ Internet Users per 100 inhab.↓ Total population (thousands)↓ GDP per capita↓ GDP total (thousands)↓ Mobile subscibers per 100 inhab.↓ Total number of mobile subscribers (thousands)↓ Market Size↓ Market Growth↓
Europe 62500 76 82260 40308 3315736080 128 105515 Large Slow

[source]


Currency

The Euro (sign: €; code: EUR) is the currency of Germany. It is normally abbreviated with the euro sign €, or alternatively EUR€. EUR must be used when conveying the price to users. It is divided into 100 cents. 

€EUR1 in £GBP

€EUR1 in $USD

 

Approval Process

When applying for a dedicated code in Germany your draft promotions should be submitted to txtNation via the form provided below. The form and your draft promotions should be submitted in English or English and German. You should not put any promotions in a public place before they have been approved.

As part of the application process for you will need to complete a txtNation Customer Care Form (CCF). The CCF is used to submit to the carriers for them to provision the shortcode, and used ongoing to ensure that your service tests the same as the approval.

Dedicated shortcode provisioning takes 6 weeks upon application approval by mobile operators.

After your code is approved, further carrier approval is required if you want to:

- Launch a new service billing €4.99 or more.

- Launch a new subscription service. 

- Require an additional tariff. 

 

txtNation are required to document the mandatory information below (please bear in mind that missing or incomplete information may lead to refusal of a new service and/or even a deactivation of existing services by the network operators):

- Value Added Tax ID (VAT) / Tax number 

- Company registration number 

- Commercial register report 

- URL of the company 

- Name of the CEO 

- Telephone number 

- Facsimile number

 

If you company is not registered or located in Germany you must provide a summonable address to us:

- Summonable address 

- Authorised recipient of the summonable address

 

In addition, we need the following information of all your services:

- Product-URL of your service 

- Screenshot or 'storyboard' of the service

 

Promotion Guidelines

Basic requirements include that you need to:

- Display the price clearly in "€X.XX" format. 

- Display a customer support phone number, email or customer service website. 

 

Additionally, see FST Code Of Conduct:

Page 7: Advertising - Various requirements.

Page 8: Unsolicited advertising. Principles of conduct in direct marketing - Various requirements. 

Page 9 - 11: Price details - Various requirements. 

NEW DUTIES FOR ONLINE TRADERS FROM AUGUST 1, 2012 - See comment below dated 19th July 2012. 

 

Opt-in Process

- Transactional services billing €1.99 or under require a single opt-in (SMS-O).

- Transactional services €2.00 or over require a double opt-in (DO). The double opt-in message is taken care of for you, you do not need to send it. 

- Standard rate subscription programs require a single opt-in (SMS-O).

- Premium rate subscriptions require a double-opt in (DO). The double opt-in message is taken care of for you, you do not need to send it. 

- PIN opt-in (WO-PIN) services are allowed on transactional and subscription services.

For WO-PIN requirements, please see FST Code Of Conduct Page 16: Mobile payment – via TAN procedure. 

 

Message Flow Requirements 

MO Billed Transactional Service (€1.99 or less)

1 - The user sends a SMS MO to 12345 (billed).

2 - The user receives a PSMS MT with content from 12345 (unbilled).

 

MT Billed Transactional Service (€1.99 or less)

1 - The user sends a SMS MO to 12345 (unbilled).

2 - The user receives a PSMS MT with content from 12345 (billed).

 

MT Billed Transactional Service (€2.00 or more)

1 - The user sends a SMS MO to 12345 (unbilled).

2 - The user receives a Welcome SMS MT from 12345 (unbilled). Also known as the double opt-in message, here is an example:

"Dein {service description} fuer {price, e.g. 2,49 € or €2.49} kommt sofort. Wenn du bereit bist antworte mit Ja"

English translation: "Your GAME for €2.49 comes directly. If you are ready reply with YES."

3 - The user sends a Confirmation SMS MO to 12345 (unbilled).

4 - The user receives the content (billed).

 

MT Billed Subscription Service (All Tariffs)

1 - The user sends a SMS MO to 12345 (unbilled).

2 - The user receives a Welcome SMS MT from 12345 (unbilled). Also known as the double opt-in message, here is an example:

Dein {service description} kommt gleich! Antworte dazu mit JA an die $ShortNumber und (service offering, e.g. sichere Dir 3 gratis GAMEs) im Vorteilsabo fuer 3,99 EUR/GG/Monat (CompanyName)

English Translation: Your  {service description} is comming in a moment! Reply with YES to $ShortNumber and {service offering, e.g. save 3 free GAMEs) as part of your subscription for only €3.99 per month (CompanyName)

3 - The user sends a Confirmation SMS MO to 12345.

4 - The user receives the content (billed).

5 - Repeated billing transactions.

 

Billing Types 

We operate both Mobile Originated (MO) and Mobile Terminated (MT) billing on dedicated lines in Germany. See forum entry "What are the SMS billing types available?" for more information on these billing types.

Due to a number user complaints around July 2009, MO billed short codes have been more difficult to obtain, and it is likely that MO codes are going to be phased out. As MO codes bill no matter what the user sends into the code, incorrect keyword and information messages are also billed causing user dissatisfaction. Additionally if a service is in breach of regulations and needs to be shut down, the only way to stop billing users is by removing the promotions, which the carriers don't have direct control over, and if in print isn't always possible to remove from public circulation. 

 

Service Types

See FST Code Of Conduct:

Page 5: Impermissible and unlawful content which in summary contains legislative references to the German Civil Code [Strafgesetzbuch – StGB] (Incitement to hatred and violence against segments of the population (or minority groups) or publishing insults against them in such a manner as to endanger the peace or to expose them to scorn or contempt); Incitement to commit crimes, Depiction of acts of violence, Dissemination of propaganda material of unconstitutional organizations, Use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations, Treasonable conduct as an agent for sabotage purposes, Dissemination of pornographic publications, the German Narcotics Act [Betäubungsmittelgesetz]; Impermissible organization of games of chance, lotteries and other gambling events.

Page 6: Protection of youth - Summarized in the context of premium SMS: Services that might endanger children morally or impair their well-being may only be offered with an effective access control. The access control must take effect, at the latest, before the caller reaches parts of services that might seriously endanger children or young persons morally or impair their well-being. 

Page 18: Games of chance/ lotteries and Competitions with value-added service numbers including abbreviated dialing. The value-added service number charges made for competitions offered via broadcast media or comparable telemedia may not exceed EUR 0.50 per attmpt see § 8a of the draft Amendment of the Agreement between Federal States on Broadcasting (Rundfunkänderungsstaatsvertrages- RfÄStV)."

Page 19: Consulting Services - Consulting services shall be permissible only if an appropriate qualification/ source isgiven, or the required permission exists (e.g. a permission pursuant to the German LegalAdvice Act). In other respects, consulting services (e.g., employee placement, andhousing brokerage as well as debt regulation or debt management agreements) shall bepermissible only to the extent that these services may be operated without a permit prescribed by law. A consulting service for which a permit is required or a consultingservice that may not be performed until after professional competence has beenexamined by a public authority may only be provided as a value-added telephone service if a public authority has determined that it is permissible to provide it as a service thatcarries a charge.

Page 11: Charity services Charity lines are only allowed to be used for this purpose in accordance with regulations. The partial use of a service as a charity line shall be precluded.

> Adult content is allowed however please ask to determine what level of adult is allowed.

> Gambling is not allowed.

 

Available Tariffs

MT ALL CARRIERS: 0.49, 0.99, 1.49, 1.99, 2.49, 2.99, 3.49, 3.99,
4.49, 4.99, 5.49, 5.99, 6.49, 6.99, 7.49, 7.99, 8.49, 8.99, 9.49, 9.99

MT Billing tariffs: €0.49, €0.99, €1.49, €1.99, €2.49, € 2.99, €3.49, €3.99, €4.49, € 4.99, € 5.49, € 5.99, €6.49, €6.99, € 7.49, €7.99, €8.49, €8.99, €9.49, €9.99

MO tariffs available on request. 

 

Shortcode and Keyword Structure

Short codes are 5 digits and with regard to Vanity aka golden short codes, there is no extra fee for those codes, it's just a question of availability. 

 

Frequency and Amount

There are no written regulations as to how much you can bill per user per month, however as per the Approval Process section of this forum entry, you will receive feedback for anything over €4.99 or for subscriptions service applications if the carriers deem that you are billing too much or not offering value for money. 

 

Taxes

The current rate of tax in Germany is available via Wikipedia.

The outpayments on our rate cards are exclusive of VAT, so if you are VAT registered you can claim a higher outpayment than is shown.

 

Dedicated Codes 

Dedicated codes are available with a 4 - 8 week lead time depending on carrier availability, the carriers approve based on their backlog, the time of year, price point and service type. You can read more about Short Code Coverage, SMS Billing Services and Mobile Payments in Germany via the txtNation Gateway.

 

Germany has the following Mobile Payment options available, all of which fall under these regulations.

  • Premium SMS (P-SMS) including Short Code services


Additional options for Mobile Payments and Messaging in Germany include:

  • HLR Lookup
  • Bulk SMS
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Comments

  • Avatar
    txtNation Support

    Dear valued customer,

    We would like to inform you about some important changes of the e-commerce legislation in Germany, effective August 1st, 2012. The new rules will be incorporated into the existing Sec. 312g of the German Civil Code ("BGB").

     

    According to the new legislation, businesses are obliged to provide consumers with all information relevant for the conclusion of a (purchase) contract, directly before an online order is placed.

     

    It is mandatory to provide the following information:

     

    • the main characteristics and/or description of the product or service;
    • the minimum term of the contract; if the contract is one for permanent or periodic services;
    • the total price of the goods or services, including all associated price components such as VAT; and
    • additional handling fees, delivery and mailing costs (if applicable), as well as an indication of any possible further costs or taxes.

     

    Businesses must design their websites in such way that the consumers expressly confirm with ordering that they commit to a payment.  If an order is made via a click (button), the company fulfills its duty sufficiently only when this button is legible with only the words "Order liable for Payment" or is labeled with an appropriately clear formulation.

     

    Appropriately clear formulations are, for example

     

    • "kostenpflichtig bestellen" ("order liable to pay the costs"),
    • "zahlungspflichtigen Vertrag schließen" ("conclude a contract liable for payment") or
    • "kaufen" ("buy")

     

    The consumer must know that clicking on the button is associated with costs!

     

    If these requirements are not met, it will have the consequence that the contract with the consumer is invalid and therefore the consumer is not obligated to pay anything.

     

    The obligation to implement this so called "button-solution" lies with the business that provides the website, as the contract is entered with that business.  We kindly ask you to check back with your Legal Department or your local legal counsel, whether your business falls within the new e-commerce legislation.

     

    If you have any questions or if you need help to implement the required changes to be compliant with the new regulation we will be happy to assist you.

     

  • Avatar
    AJ Nouman

    Country*: Germany*

    Networks*: Vodafone Only*

    Service*: Premium SMS Subscriptions (Adult Video and Gaming subscriptions)*

    Date required to take action*: Immediate*

    • Vodafone GmbH Germany has introduced a price limitation of €4.99 Per week on game and/or Erotic adults subscription services.
    • The Subscriptions in the categories Erotic and Games that are already with another price point are not influenced by this price limitation. This limitation is only for future Services in these categories.
    • Special Apps: These are apps that they don't include any of the given Contents: neither erotic videos nor Legacy games are in this category. In special cases Vodafone decides if for the service applies a price limitation.
    • In erotic category the price limitation applies only for videos. Pictures, wallpaper etc are not included
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