Idea Cellular in direct carrier billing deal with Google

Idea Cellular in direct carrier billing deal with Google
Telecom network operator Idea Cellular along with Google India introduced a joint initiative of direct carrier billing for its 184 million Idea subscriber base.

The launch of direct carrier billing, provides an option to purchase digital content on Google Play Store with a telecom account. With this billing there is no need to have a credit/debit card or net-banking facility to purchase a game or movie or e-book on Google Play Store.

Customers can purchase an app or pay for an in-app feature on Google Play Store, for which they will be charged from their respective postpaid or prepaid mobile accounts.

Idea is the third-largest operator and has 18.9 percent revenue market share. With one amongst 10 Idea service owners using data, a total of 25 per cent of Idea subscribers use data. Average data consumption of an Idea cellular data subscriber is 641MB per month.

According to eMarketer, the number of smartphone users in India has climbed 36 percent in 2015 to 167.9 million, with the figure expected to reach more than 200 million this year and 300 million by 2019. Other companies to offer carrier billing in India include Facebook, music streaming service Saavn and Microsoft’s Windows store. India has become the 41st market to receive carrier billing with today’s launch for Google.

“The kind of data adoption we are witnessing, we expect three times more subscribers,” said P Lakshminarayana, chief operating officer (Corporate), Idea Cellular.

The new announcement comes with two-click purchases after which a fully secure payment option can be availed, conveyed Idea and Google. The customers will be charged with the product price and an additional convenient fees of 15-16 percent on the total amount of every purchase. In case of payment reversal, the convenient fees will also be credited to the customer along-with the product cost.

For availing this facility, billing services between Google and Idea require the usage of Idea cellular data option and WiFi connection cannot be established to avail the same. For any further transactions, either WiFi or cellular data can be put to use.

“Last year, 50 billion Google apps were downloaded in India itself. One significant problem in spite of such growth is that the credit card penetration is less than 3 percent. Direct Carrier billing is a step towards evolution to make it easier for customers to make purchases,” said Mike Hayes, business development, Android & Chrome Partnerships, Google.

In 2014, Idea also entered into a similar arrangement with  Eros Now, Microsoft, Opera and Hungama for similar integrated carrier billing. Idea had partnered with Microsoft for its mobile app store, Windows 10 and later formed another collaboration with RoVio, the makers of Angry Birds.

Idea is believed to be working with Bango, a U.K.-based provider of carrier billing software, conveyed CNBC.

In the past seven months, Google has been giving tough competition to Apple, with carrier deals with over 100 carriers in 41 markets. Apple has been lagging behind in carrier billing adoption, having only introduced the service in Germany and Russia. Google has also introduced lower minimal pricing in India where the apps can be priced for as low as Rs 10, for the first time in the world.

Google has signed up with several carriers in the past 18 months, and over the time period has seen the number of buyers on the Play Store quadruple, with results in Turkey and Saudi Arabia also being encouraging, conveyed Jamie Rosenberg, Head, Google Play.

Image Caption: L to R – Rajat Mukarji, chief corporate affairs officer at Idea Cellular, Mike Hayes, director, Business Development, Android & Chrome Partnerships at Google and P Lakshminarayana, COO – Corporate, Idea Cellular

Vina Krishnan
[email protected]