By John BaRoss, Founder & President, FINCCLUDE Incorporated
A rather quiet alternative payment solution is continuing its inexorable ascension in depth and now breadth as a major, impactful payment solution globally.
Carrier Billing [CB], also referred to as Operator Billing, had its beginnings back near the dawn of monetizing the Internet. Visionaries of eCommerce saw the potential for transacting online, plus anticipated new forms of digital products but at price points far below viable economic model thresholds of traditional payments options like credit cards. The notion of micropayments caused eCommerce planners to intuitively look to telco/carriers to overcome this challenge. While carriers are communication network companies, their other significant core competency was billing. Specifically carriers supported line item billing of network call events that often represented charges to customers in amounts comparable to microbilling (less than $5.00, even less than $1.00).
In the US, while credit card penetration was significant, industry studies showed sizable portions of the population on the sidelines of eCommerce (20-40%+) due to either being unbanked or fearing to transact online with one’s personal financial account information. Leadership at major merchants viewed carrier billing as the Holy Grail of eCommerce billing but in the US, carrier leadership was under significant financial pressure due to chasing the fraudulent MCI/Worldcom ghost, and cramming and slamming billing complaints to the FTC, FCC then to Carrier C-suites (for unauthorized switching of long distance carrier). These environmental factors influenced thinking at leadership of US carriers to not aggressively pursue carrier billing.
Over time, while the US became generally viewed as a global laggard with CB, globally hundreds of carriers, thousands of merchants and countless millions of consumers scaled utilizing CB to make purchases of a potpourri of premium digital content goods and services. In 2016, CB has expanded its global reach to be available in about 120 countries (representing over 90% of the world’s population), supported by 1-10+ carriers per country. Leading industry analyst firms approximate the DCB globally supports $12-$16B+ now, projected to grow to over $24B by 2019.
About FINCCLUDE: Non-profit FINCCLUDE (Financial Inclusion Now, Carrier Commerce Leading a Ubiquitous Digital Economy) is downstream from AFI (Alliance for Financial Inclusion), uniquely exclusively serving the Carrier Commerce industry at the intersection of Financial Inclusion by helping to facilitate the cross-pollinating of financial inclusion success-knowledge to operational leaders in Carrier Commerce (when necessary, as a rapid response unit). www.fincclude.org).