Microsoft, Idea launch integrated operator billing for Windows Phone

Microsoft aims to boost its app ecosystem in the country as it ties up with telecom giant Idea Cellular to launch integrated operator billing for Windows Phone. Will the move inspire other telcos and App Stores to integrate operator billing?

Published Date
12 - Jan - 2015
| Last Updated
12 - Jan - 2015
 
Microsoft, Idea launch integrated operator billing for Windows Ph...

Integrated operator billing has been around for quite some time. In spite of a wide consensus over its ease of use for customers and huge potential for monetisation, integrated operator billing hasn't become mainstream so far. However, Microsoft and Idea now look to give another push to integrated operator billing. The two companies have just announced a formal tie up to launch introduce operator billing on the Windows Store for Idea subscribers.

As per the partnership, Idea users on Microsoft Lumia devices as well as other Windows based smartphones across brands can buy apps and games from the Window Store integrated operator billing. The amount will be either added to their monthly mobile phone bills or deducted from their pre-paid balance, depending on their data plans. Idea claims it is the first telco in the country to offer integrated operator billing on Windows Store.

According to Nikhil Mathur, Director – B2B & Operator Channels, Nokia India Sales Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of Microsoft Mobile Oy, “Microsoft’s partnership with Idea Cellular is a big step towards providing Indian consumers easy and simplified access to Windows Store content through operator billing. With smartphones becoming more affordable, adoption of mobile internet is witnessing an unprecedented growth and we are confident that this partnership will further accelerate growth for the app ecosystem with mobile internet users making a shift towards consuming premium apps and content on their devices.”

Speaking at the announcement, Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular, says, “Microsoft and Idea have had a long-standing and an extremely fruitful association, and this new venture will only strengthen our joint mission to offer enriched services to our consumers. This development eases a consumer’s access to premium apps on Windows Store through a convenient purchase process. We are happy to be the first operator to partner with Microsoft for Windows Store and offer our consumers the ease to download a range of local and global applications without worrying about the mode of payment.”

Microsoft highlights integrated billing has emerged much preferred method, especially in emerging markets to make in app payments. Here's an infographic recently shared by Microsoft:

Apart from giving convenience to customers, the tie up is also aimed at developers, who now no longer need to be dependent on credit card or other payment methods to monetize their apps/products. Microsoft also points out that low credit card penetration and reluctance towards such payments have hindered growth of app ecoystem and developers. Operator billing, however, can address these concerns.
 
“Unlike other parts of the world, credit card penetration in India is very low and this in turn impedes the consumer purchase experience and limits app monetization. With the introduction of operator billing, we have seen significant increase in consumer commerce across developed and emerging markets. We expect Microsoft’s partnership with Idea Cellular to immensely benefit consumers and developers,” said Harish Vaidyanathan, Director-Evangelism at Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd.

As said above integrated operator billing has been around for a couple of years. Interestingly, Nokia, now Microsoft Mobile, had tied up with Vodafone in 2012 for integrated billing for Nokia Music Store. Vodafone later introduced a new platform that allowed users buy apps via operator billing. Last year, Samsung launched operator billing on Samsung app store.

While operator billing has seen sporadic push, mobile wallet has emerged as another popular mobile payment system. Players such as Paytm have well tapped this segment, and have integrated with telecom operators and e-commerce sites. Read: Mobile commerce in India: Ready to hit mainstream?