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The most popular billing payment flows explained

 

Editor’s note: This is part of a monthly blog series by Gokmen Atak, Onebip’s Product Offer & Quality Specialist.  Gokmen aims to share his “Tips of the month” which includes product features and updates that Onebip partners can take advantage of to improve their mobile payment offering.  Please feel free to add your comments at the end of the post.

 

Consumers love to use carrier billing to purchase digital goods not only because it’s a simple and seamless purchase experience but because they don’t have to deal with the complex authorization steps that they may have to using other payment methods online.

 

With carrier billing, consumers don’t need to enter their account details, billing address, credit card data and they don’t need to register or create a new account when they want to pay because carriers already have their payment data and personal information in order to bill them – their mobile phone accounts! It’s as simple as click to buy.

 

However carrier billing involves complex relationships between carriers, merchants and billing platforms which largely changes country by country. We’ve seen different types of purchase experiences evolve in this ecosystem, starting with the early beginnings of carrier billing in 2000s with PSMS billing systems which involved simply texting a certain keyword to a number, and expanding to today’s Direct Carrier Billing systems which is widely accepted by merchants and app developers, leveraged by seamless one-click payments.

We’ve often found that merchants like to understand in detail the carrier billing payment flow and consumer experience to be able to compare it with other alternative payment methods.  Merchants also want to choose the right billing platform with the best streamlined experience for their customers.

In light of this, I’d like to list and explain the different payment flows Onebip has adapted globally in this Tip of the Month.

As said previously, the purchase experience of the consumer depends on many factors, primarily the payment flow adapted and allowed by the carrier, which strongly depends on the charging mechanism deployed on the carrier platform, which then varies depending on many other factors involved in the payment process such as the billing method, business model or the connection type.

Here are the factors that define the payment flow and consumer experience in carrier billing:

Before we look at the flows, there are some frequently used carrier billing terminologies that I should probably define for you first:

– MO SMS: Consumer texts the keyword to the shortcode number from the mobile device

– MT SMS: Consumer receives an SMS sent to the mobile device

– Handshake MT: Consumer receives an SMS that he/she must reply to in order to purchase.

– MSISDN: Consumer’s mobile phone number.

Now, let’s look at the payment flows by context. The best approach is to divide the list of flows by context: Web, Mobile and Offline.

1. WEB CONTEXT

 

This is when a consumer navigates on a merchant’s web page using a PC i.e. desktop and laptop where the product or service is delivered to the consumer. There are two devices that the consumer will use in this context: a PC and a Mobile (smartphone legacy phone) which the consumer will use to authorize the purchase. We can group these payment flows into “WEB FLOWS”.

 

MO flow:

1. Web page displays the info to send an MO SMS
2. Consumer sends MO SMS to purchase

Handshake flow:

1. Consumer enters MSISDN on web page
2. A handshake MT SMS in sent to consumer
3. Consumer replies the handshake MT SMS with MO SMS to purchase

PIN flow:

1. Consumer enters MSISDN on web page
2. An MT SMS is sent to consumer with a PIN
3. Consumer enters the PIN on web page to purchase

 

 

Link flow:

1. Consumer enters MSISDN on web page
2. An MT SMS in sent to consumer with a link (URL)
3. Consumer clicks the link on MT SMS and goes to web page to purchase

 

2. MOBILE CONTEXT

 

Then is when a consumer is on the merchant’s mobile internet page or in a mobile native application navigating with a mobile device where the product or service is delivered to the consumer and where the consumer enters information and authorizes the purchase as well. The advantage of the mobile context is that if the consumer is on a carrier data connection (i.e. 3G, 4G), the MSISDN of the consumer can automatically be recognized and a one-click payment is made possible and the most popular payment flow in use today for carrier billing. We can group these payment flows into “MOBILE FLOWS”.

 

One-click flow:

1. Consumer authorizes the purchase via one-click on mobile internet page or in app

 

 

MO flow:

1. Mobile internet page or application displays the info to send an MO SMS
2. Consumer sends MO SMS to purchase.

Handshake flow:

1. Consumer enters MSISDN on mobile internet page or in app
2. A handshake MT SMS in sent to consumer
3. Consumer replies the handshake MT SMS with MO SMS to purchase.

PIN flow:

1. Consumer enters MSISDN on mobile internet page or in app
2. An MT SMS in sent to the consumer with a PIN
3. Consumer enters the PIN on mobile internet page or in app to purchase.

Link flow:

1. Consumer enters MSISDN on mobile internet page or in app
2. An MT SMS is sent to the consumer with a link (URL)
3. Consumer clicks the link on MT SMS and lands on the mobile internet page to purchase.

 

3. OFFLINE CONTEXT

 

This is when a consumer is not actively navigating on any web or mobile internet page but has a mobile device in hand, usually a legacy phone, with which he/she can use to authorize the purchase. This context is not common among digital goods, content and service providers today.

MO flow:

1. Consumer sends MO SMS to purchase

Link flow:

1. Consumer sends MO SMS to purchase
2. An MT SMS in sent to consumer with a link (URL)
3. Consumer clicks the link on MT SMS and lands to mobile internet page to purchase.

Onebip’s billing platform handles a number of different payment flows and screens and manages the complexity across any website and application on any device through integration using a single API.

Onebip’s unique front-end technology identifies the payment factors that I’ve listed above and delivers great flexibility that adapts to any payment flow which is compliant with all local carrier and country regulations and displays the best payment screens to consumers.  This ensures the best conversion for merchants.

I hope this short explanation of the different payment flows and the factors that define the consumer experience and flow has helped you understand how carrier billing works and why it’s such a powerful monetization tool!

 

In the next Tip of the month, we will dig deeper into the consumer experience starting from the different payment flows and I’ll define how all these factors affect the consumer experience.

 

If you’d like to view demos of our payment flows, check out Onebip’s YouTube channel.

By Gokmen Atak, Onebip Product Offer and Quality Specialist