A Global Billing Solution

Marc Jarrett
Given the fact that 92 percent of the world's population does not have a credit card, if you currently do not offer an alternative billing solution you are missing out on a significant revenue stream.

As we are all aware, the open architecture nature of the web means that Deepak from Delhi can see your awesome website just as easily as can Mike in Miami. However, despite having the resources to pay you, Deepak is not given an opportunity to do so – resulting in him getting his kicks elsewhere.

In theory, the dialer was the answer to this problem. End users would pay you on a per-minute basis while their modem reconnected to the web via a premium rate number. In practice, the high incidence of fraud leading to horrendous phone bills shattered consumer confidence, resulting in mass rejection of invitations to have additional software downloaded onto their PC's. Beyond this, increasing broadband penetration has rendered the dialer technically obsolete.

The Solution? Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Billing which can be best compared to 1-900 number phone billing for the global village. Surfers are invited to call a premium rate number in order to gain access to the forbidden fruits of your member's area for a limited amount of time. Chances are, their country does not even have a domestic premium rate billing infrastructure – so the surfer is invited to call an overseas number instead – all without the need of a second phone line or having to download anything onto his PC.

For this, he will be charged at the standard International Direct Dial (IDD) rates as dictated by his phone provider and pay via his phone bill in the usual way. The phone provider then pays a portion of this to the "terminating" telco – that is to say, the phone company in the country to where the call is sent.

These "terminating" telcos understand that the traffic and revenue they receive this way is new money, and are prepared to pay a portion of this rate – otherwise known as the "settlement" rate - to companies whose client's marketing efforts resulted in said traffic.

IVR billing is popular with end users since it is simple and means that they do not have to part with any personal information and since these customers typically have no other way of paying you, such a billing mechanism allows for recurring business.

Another small but crucial aspect to this billing mechanism is to use geo-targeted "calls to action." This way, our friend Deepak will be pleasantly surprised to see the message to pay you in his own native tongue, in his case Hindi. Money Talks, in every language – not just English!

If you operate a paysite, the implementation of such a solution will hand you a new revenue stream overnight without any additional marketing efforts on your part, since these are people that were visiting your site(s) anyway.

On the other hand, if you are involved in other activities that generate international traffic, make sure that you work with an IVR provider that provides you with 'good-to-go' geo-targeted consumer-facing niche websites where you can direct such traffic. You should not have to pay a dime for this since it in your IVR processor's best interest to provide you with all the tools needed to convert such traffic.

Some key players within the industry are already earning in excess of one million dollars per year by utilizing IVR Billing. Such solutions can and should be disabled for the US where the credit card reigns supreme. But the world is a big place, and given the underlying nature of the product we offer – let's face it, a blowjob is a blowjob in ANY language – the time to implement such a solution is now. Go on, make both Deepak and your Bank Manager happy – the money is just lying out there waiting to be picked up...