trends

Mobile Billing Foundations

Harvey Kaplan
In today's market, when you build out your website's billing foundation, one of the key factors everyone must keep in mind is that there is a proliferation of payment for content via mobile phones. This means customers will pay for content and use their cell phone billing options as a form of credit.

Nowadays, almost everyone on the planet has a cellphone, and most have used it to pay for content. Premium SMS has made its way into the arena, even for adult content. This has been going on for many years, though mobile purchasing of adult content still hasn't come into full bloom in the U.S.

That will change when the telephone companies adopt a standard for age identification, which is all that's preventing customers from charging for adult content through their cellphones. The model already is in place, as mobile billing is being used in the mainstream market all the time.

Of course, this doesn't mean that we should ignore every other country that has Internet access from cellphones and the ability to pay for content through mobile channels, either Premium SMS or through mobile wallet applications like Thumbwallet.com. The latter system is a numeric-only credit card setup for mobile phones, specifically designed to pay for content on cellphones or PDAs. Through it, the customer's credit card is processed, and then he or she is allowed access to a variety of sites.

Another system is WAP billing, allowing charges in larger denominations than Premium SMS, which limits charges to specific amounts, usually 99 cents-$4.99. In a WAP billing system, the client's application essentially asks the phone company how much credit a customer may be allowed for purchases. It could be, say, $50 per day, which can be spent in one lump sum or spread out among several transactions.

Without these payment features, you don't know how many customers actually have entered your site with no other means of paying other than their cellphones. Nowadays, customers need to be presented with as many payment options as possible, and it's important to note that paying with mobile phone credit allows them to remain anonymous. The charge on their monthly phone bill simply shows up as "WAP," or a "PSMS Thumbwallet" transaction.

The Thumbwallet application is unique in that customers can pay via PSMS or credit card, and they receive credits they can use to purchase content from a variety of sites. Contact Thumbwallet for more information on how you can become a customer.

Last but not least, let's not forget foreign traffic. Mobile phone billing is optimal for these customers because it is a fast, convenient and trusted form of billing. Customers visiting your site from other countries might be limited to mobile as their only allowable form of payment.

Keep in mind that you will need to change the way you charge your customers who wish to pay with their mobile phones because the telephone companies charge about 50 percent and take up to 120 days to pay. But one good alternative is to find a factoring company that pays sooner and gives customers access in direct proportion to how much they're spending. This easily can offset the percentage and wait windows.

Simply stated, mobile purchasing and billing is a segment of the marketplace that no webmaster should ignore. When building out a billing mechanism for your website, there is no telling how much money you could be making, and if you already have a site built, there is no telling how much money you could be losing.

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