Telefónica signs with Facebook, Google, RIM and Microsoft for direct bill

5 July 2012

Telefónica Digital has announced it has secured global framework agreements with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion (RIM) to offer its Direct to Bill payments procedure to these firms online content, via its mobile customers.

The Mobile Network Operator (MNO) sees the agreement as an intensification of its efforts to drive the monetisation of mobile content. Telefónica Digital believes it can use the billing relationship it already has with its mobile customers to increase sales of digital goods and services, particularly in Latin America, where credit card penetration is low and 60% of the population do not have bank accounts.

By adding Facebook, Google, Microsoft and RIM to its ecosystem the MNO is hoping to drive up the usage of its Direct to Bill payment offering, while the technology firms can reasonably expect some extra revenue and outlets to market via the framework agreements and, crucially perhaps, extra customer usage data.

Full details are yet to be released but it is expected that the growing Latin American and Brazilian markets will be particular targets as mobile penetration there, in common with other developing regions, is much much higher than financial inclusion, meaning any mobile payment and m-commerce ecosystem can grow much more quickly without any competing legacy systems.

Telefónica has already started to rollout its Direct to Bill service in Europe, where it has 400,000 customers per month in Germany, on average, but of course faces existing legacy payment systems. The MNO plans to have its billing service live in 14 markets globally by the end of the year.

By Neil Ainger

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