opinion

SMS Billing: Remains Popular in Some Regions

Alex Henderson

The mobile/wireless sector continues to grow steadily in the adult entertainment industry, and many people who consume adult content on mobile devices are also paying for it using those devices. Most are choosing carrier/operator billing, although others are opting for billing via SMS (short message service).

“Compared to other alternative billing methods, SMS billing offers the mobile customer quick, safe and secure payments,” explained Judy Shalom, managing director for Affil4you. “SMS billing also allows people without—or those unwilling to use—a credit, debit card or other electronic payment solution to instantly do online payments and access content that would otherwise be unavailable.”

SMS is highly used for adult dating sites, single movie views or other services which involve small amounts such as app payments. -Paul Groenendaal, DialXS.

Some billing specialists allege that SMS billing is on its way out. Shalom disagrees, although she is quick to point out that in Europe, carrier billing (an area in which Affil4you is a leader) is much more prominent. “We have been hearing a lot lately that SMS billing is dying. This is, of course, untrue, but carrier billing is the key to content monetization on mobile devices. SMS billing is not as popular in Europe, since the dominant form of mobile billing is direct operator billing. Direct operator billing is the most powerful and most successful method of billing mobile digital content.”

When companies that offer SMS billing are asked to cite some advantages of SMS payments, ease of use is frequently mentioned. Daniela Ganick, senior sales manager for the mobile payment specialist iTelebill, noted: “The biggest advantage of SMS billing is that literally everyone who has a cell phone can use it to pay for an online service. The second is that it’s anonymous and secure. No user needs to enter any debit or credit card details—we do not need their e-mail address, name or any other personal or payment details. All he needs to do is send in a text message to get started.”

Asked to cite some of the world’s best markets for SMS billing, Ganick responded: “SMS billing, just like any other alternative billing method, will mainly be used in countries where credit cards are not very common. In fact, in most European countries, credit cards would be considered the alternative payment method, as the majority of users still does not have one. Bank payment and phone payments are most commonly used and should always be considered by a website owner when trying to convert their European traffic. The U.K., despite having standard Visa debit cards, is still one of the best converting countries when it comes to SMS payments, but also, any European country as well as Australia are doing really well.”

And when Ganick was asked to cite an example of a major country that lagged behind in the area of SMS billing, she replied: “That would be the USA, in my opinion. SMS and direct operator billing are still very limited and highly regulated by the local network, making it very difficult to find a workable solution.”

Paul Groenendaal, a senior account manager for DialXS, asserted that it is a myth that SMS billing is dying and that it is “hardly used anymore” or “cannot be used in combination with adult services.” None of that is true, Groenendaal said — and he cited the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the U.K., Spain and France as examples of major developed countries in which there continues to be a demand for SMS billing. SMS, according to Groenendaal, is popular in those countries because it is “fast, easy to use” and affordable.

Groenendaal observed: “SMS is highly used for adult dating sites, single movie views or other services which involve small amounts such as app payments.”

The mobile sector is showing no signs of slowing down, and Ganick asserted that the adult webmasters of the future will need to be as mobile-friendly as possible. “Even trial subscriptions can be done by SMS,” Ganick observed. “Apart from SMS billing, there is, of course, also direct operator billing and premium-rate phone numbers, which can also be great for converting users. Premium-rate phone numbers are especially great for credit top-ups and pay-per-minute payments like live streaming services: VOD, cams, etc. Merchants interested in increasing their conversions in any country with a low credit card penetration should always consider available phone payment options to ensure best possible conversions.”

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