T-Mobile will become the next wireless carrier to open the doors to direct mobile billing to its customers following its plans to partner with mobile payments processor Payfone.
The new service, called T-Mobile Direct Carrier Billing, will open up the doors for T-Mobile’s 33.6 million U.S. wireless customers to begin purchasing digital content and services from their mobile phones and other web-enabled devices and have the charges added to their monthly cellular phone bills. The service will use billing services provided by BilltoMobile, Boke, OpenMarket, Payfone and Zong, and eliminate the need for credit card information to be entered when a purchase is made.
A statement announcing the deal indicated that more service partners and content providers would be added to the program in the future, and will be available later this month. At that time, customers will be able to opt into the service at no additional cost.
“As the growth in mobile purchasing explodes, we want to be at the forefront in helping customers more easily purchase digital content and services,” said T-Mobile USA’s senior vice president of values added services Brad Duea in a statement. “In 2009, T-Mobile was the first U.S. carrier to offer direct carrier billing for the Android Market. With this new program, we’re extending the hassle-free payment experience to browser-based purchases from virtually any online source and across a variety of mobile devices, delivering more purchasing power to mobile-centric consumers.”
More recently, Verizon Wireless partnered with Payfone to provide its 104 million wireless connection access to direct mobile billing services.
For those unfamiliar with how the Payfone service works, the company’s payment plaform runs on a system known as SmartBill, which is the same network used by mobile operators. Payfone payments are tied to a mobile customer’s SIM card, device ID and location, meaning payments can only be made on one cellular phone and that credit card information isn’t needed. After payments are made, the charges are then added to a customer’s next phone bill. To prevent fraudulent charges from being made from a lost or stolen device Payfone can detect abnormalities by using what’s called the SS7 network, which is used by network mobile operators communicate and manage fraud.
According to Payfone’s founder, Rodger Desai, T-Mobile chose to work with his company because of its ability to integrate with both financial institutions and mobile commerce providers. The company has plans to expand in North America, Western Europe and the Asia Pacific Region, and will announced two other Tier 1 mobile carrier partnerships in the near future.