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Google, Airtel In Carrier Billing Negotiations

September 22, 2014 - Written By David Steele

Personally, I love the idea of paying for things using my existing mobile ‘phone bill. It’s easy for me, because the account has already been set up and comes out every month on largely the same day. My carrier let me know a few days in advance to remind me how much it will be and I can check on the amount at any time using a mobile application. I also don’t like credit cards and don’t always like quoting card details over the ‘phone as it might mean juggling wallet and handset in a public place, plus I never know who’s listening. For me, then, adding something to my mobile bill is a great feature and we’ve news today that Google is in talks with Indian mobile operator Airtel to allow customers the ability to pay for Google products and services via their existing mobile bill. If this goes though, this could be a win-win-win scenario for Airtel, customers and Google. Airtel benefit because they will take a share of the revenue generated. Customers benefit from the improved security and they won’t need a credit card for transactions (only 2% of the Indian population currently own a credit card) to get access to Google’s extensive library. And of course, Google benefit because it will significantly open up the market for them.

The revenue sharing deal is interesting. Airtel’s data-using customer base stands at 40 million with around 12.5 million having access to 3G. It’s common practice for carriers and suppliers to strike a deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, where revenue for carrier bill purchases is shared between the two. In this case, the rumour is that Google asked for 90% of the revenue with Airtel holding out for a better deal. We also know that Microsoft is planning to launch a carrier billing solution for India but we do not know the timescales. It appears that Airtel would be in good company, too; Vodafone recently announced changes to their revenue sharing arrangements with the split being 70% for the provider and 30% for the carrier. However, let’s not disregard Google’s own strength as Android One has just been launched in India. Google already offer carrier billing across the world in countries and are experienced in such matters. This carrier billing solution is one that works and could be a real money-maker for both carrier and provider.

What do our readers think to this development? Is carrier billing something you would be comfortable with? Would you prefer this to using a PayPal, bank or credit card?