Phone Billing Explained

Marc Jarrett
Given the fact that the web is a truly global medium and that the majority of the world's population do not have a credit card, phone billing is a must on your join page – not least since the telephone is so ubiquitous.

The dialer might have died, but the billing mechanism on which it is based is still very much alive and well. With phone billing, there are two primary business models, namely: the surfer pays for content on a pay-per-minute basis by dialing a premium number, or the surfer buys a block of time in advance so that when he enjoys the content, the billing clock is no longer ticking.

The problem with the first variant is that it only works for surfers that have the luxury of two phone lines (or broadband), since one line is needed for connection to the Internet. Furthermore, surfers also know that they are paying you on a per minute basis and this makes them nervous, anxious to the end the session.

With the latter (and on which our system is based), the surfer buys time in advance and therefore can enjoy your content safe in the knowledge that he has already paid for it. Using this model, it is possible to monetize traffic from the majority of the world's surfers who only have one phone line.

We do not dictate the cost of getting a password, the various phone companies worldwide do, which is why the payouts vary. Thus, a surfer from Austria pays more for his password than his Chinese counterpart; but then you receive more. How much access time you grant is up to you. Some webmasters stick to our default timeout of 30 minutes; others give 24 hours access.

The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that support 900 number phone billing "drop charging" whereby the join fee is deducted in one go and where the ordering process is not time-critical. However, it is practically the only market to have chargebacks associated with it, since the average American knows that he is not legally obliged to pay the 900 element of his phone bill.

For the vast majority of the world, pay-per-minute charging is used for premium rate numbers and chargebacks are negligible since calls to such numbers usually represent a small fraction of the phone subscriber's overall activity – and failure to pay will result in termination of an essential utility.

Those of you that are employing CCBill's 900 Billing are therefore missing out on significant additional revenue from surfers in the world's other 240 countries – all of whom can see your site(s), but do not have the opportunity of paying you with a device that they all have.

Phone billing is not recurring by default, which it why it is so popular with surfers with no commitment on their part and ideal for the spontaneous purchaser who likes what he sees. However, if you have compelling content, you will find that surfers will literally come back for more – probably in part due to the fact that you gave them the option not to commit to a recurring membership in the first place.