Mobile Billing's Bright Outlook

There’s no question about it: If your online adult business isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll probably make more money sending your traffic to a site that is.

In the past eight years with the advent of smartphones and tablets, online viewing preferences have radically changed the ways users seek out sexually explicit content and the ways to pay for it.

As mobile commerce matures after eight years of seeing continued growth, the discussion has shifted about the future — is it mobile or is it desktop, or is it just about the device? And payment service providers must be able to serve and provide a transaction through any device and any network.

In fact, some payment processors report that sales for some partnering sites have tipped to the point where mobile sales now trump desktop sales. Even those who look at the yearly projections of mobile use get blown away after their projections are found to be too conservative.

“If you don’t plan to mobile friendly, you should probably close up shop now. Mobile is no longer an option,” Mitch Farber, NETbilling’s president, told XBIZ.

“It’s what’s driving e-commerce today. With the ability to be connected to the internet at all times, more than 60 percent of today’s consumers prefer brands that provide a good mobile experience.”

And successful mobile-friendly sites are more than just working from a smartphone, notes Gary Jackson, CCBill’s managing vice president of sales.

“They need to be responsive in design, work on any screen, fast in delivery, low-in-data delivery for the consumer, multi-software compatible, and they need a payment solution that can mirror their mobile personality,” Jackson told XBIZ.

The companies that deliver the best mobile experience naturally have the highest shopper conversion rates, Farber said.

“An optimal mobile user interface makes all the difference for attracting and closing sales with customers, whether through an app or a mobile friendly website, Farber said.

Mia Zhu, Mobius Payments’ president, agreed with that assessment.

“User experience is key. Make sure it’s as user friendly as possible,” Zhu told XBIZ. “Mobile payment pages can be tedious, and the more tedious they are, the less throughput.

“It’s imperative that merchants test the living daylights out of their join forms. Split test. Think about that consumer fussing with his credit card, and make your payment page as simple and clean as possible.”

Jackson said that with the proliferation of mobile use for any business today, users already expect a smooth, seamless experience in their purchases and subscription — and this expectation would apply to choosing new offers provided to them.

“Unfortunately, one of the challenges I see from within our industry to support this is the way our industry manages their choices of payment providers can sometimes work against the way the consumer wants to buy — and this new consistency and simplicity they expect,” Jackson said. “The regular swapping between payment providers and checkout processes, changes the checkout, confuses billing support options and the ability to easily upgrade or upsell a new product.

“Our industry-unique habit of cascading transactions takes a consumer to an alternate processor or option, which often creates unintended hurdles to the consumer’s management of their purchase going forward.

“In these cases, the consumer expecting a smooth experience is often faced with unfamiliar options, unless the website invested in better technology to be able to follow the consumer’s transaction regardless of processor,” he said. “In any of these instances, the business will have to consider the user, their purchase habits and their multiplying devices in whatever payment flow or management they work with.”

Cathy Beardsley, SegPay’s president and CEO, said that the smooth user experience adds to the bottom line because users are becoming more accustomed to it, spurring more sales.

She noted that 60 percent of the processor’s pay page hits are coming in through mobile devices and that the U.S. is driving 50 percent of our mobile traffic to our website pay pages, followed by India, Canada, Kenya, China, Sudan, U.K. and the Philippines.

“It is all about easy checkout and fast checkout. We want the consumer checkout process to be as easy as possible,” Beardsley told XBIZ. “Creating a streamlined pay page that is responsive to any device so the consumer can easily enter their payment information is vital.

“At SegPay we’ve added EZ click or one-click checkout for returning customers, this allows for the simplest checkout possible with a single touch confirmation for payment details. We’re seeing higher conversion rates on these returning customers.”

Karen Campbell, OrbitalPay’s vice president, noted some of the stats on higher convergence rates and notes that some of the processor’s clients derive more than 70 percent of sales from mobile devices. She even noted that a majority of users today do not even have a desktop computer.

“Everything they do is on a phone or tablet,” Campbell told XBIZ. “So if you do not have a mobile version you are missing out on that revenue. There isn’t anything you cannot buy/access from a mobile device these days. Banking, booking travel, shopping for any household item, clothing, buying groceries, you name it and you can find an app for it. I believe the adult sector has already emerged for mobile sales.”

For OrbitalPay’s direct merchant accounts and gateway processing, Campbell said, it does not matter what device the transaction information is from.

“On the back end they are all the same,” Campbell said. “Our system has always had an extremely rapid response time and the fields required for approval are minimal which allows for a quick and easy end-user experience. One of the major benefits of using our system is the site owners are able to host their own payments pages.”

While it appears mobile users outweigh desktop users for paid content, it really depends on the audience.

A good stats review of a site’s users will tell the business owner whether they need to invest in mobile designs or not, Jackson said.

“There is evidence that shows that the success of a responsive site vs. a static site is truly dependent on the audience of users,” Jackson said. “Some of the more traditional niche sites will have a loyal following regardless of mobile access or not, simply due to allegiance, and they will continue to maintain revenues and subscriptions.

“Most newer sites with broader appeal needs to invest in technology and services to not only serve content and services across any device, but be able to make the purchase and the upgrades across any device or screen,” Jackson said. “This can actually be pretty simple with the right software and processing solutions, but the investment does need to be made upfront.

“There is also some economic differences in where your audience is located, where they buy, which can dictate how they buy. If you are in Europe or Asia, carrier transactions are attractive, given the comfort and accessibility via carriers in some regions.”

The merchant, however, needs to look closely at the fees charged to see if they allow for necessary margin, and if these kinds of transactions hinder retention in the long term, Jackson said.

“Our focus in mobile has been on web-based transactions, to avoid the carrier challenges, and empower the continued up sale and cross-sales abilities,” Jackson said. “But with carrier transactions, if there is an added cost over web-based purchases, with some content and different audiences, those added costs can be offset by increased number of sales.”

On the back end, Farber of NETbilling said mobile commerce has remarkably speeded things up in terms of form loading, one-click re-buying, and simplified mobile friendly purchase pages, among many other things.

“MMS verification codes add to the security of mobile transactions as well and is especially viable for larger purchases, live cam content and anything where the merchant stands to lose more than just some downloadable content,” Farber said. “NETbilling offers many tools to help process payment in a mobile-friendly environment.”

As mobile commerce matures after eight years of seeing continued growth, the discussion has shifted about the future — is it mobile or is it desktop, or is it just about the device? And payment service providers must be able to serve and provide a transaction through any device and any network.

“To help see how things have changed, we process and track transactions not just from desktop, tablets, smartphones, but also from game consoles, ebook readers, Smart TVs, and streaming devices like Roku,” Jackson said. “We even have transactions coming from car entertainment systems — which is the ultimate ‘mobile’ purchase.

“So not only does the site and payment forms need to be responsive to any screen, payment providers need to also deal with the fast-moving way consumer want to buy and access content. There is no time to reach for a credit card anymore.

“A simple checkout process with a stored payment option is a must, but with adult-content restrictions from many device providers and inability to use mainstream stored payment options like Apple Pay or Android Pay, options are limited across multiple sites and from multiple devices in our market,” Jackson said.

That is one reason, Jackson said, that this summer CCBill will be launching CCBill Pay, its stored payment solution.

CCBill Pay will allow anyone buying from any CCBill site to access their checkout information with a simple login — and pay — on any site using CCBill, via any device, Jackson said.

“This unified concept also showcases the need for industry processors to cope with the growing need for portability of both the initial purchase and transferability of upgrades and upsales,” Jackson said.

“The consumer in any market may buy on one device, but their management of the subscription or purchase is now literally on-the-move. A unified checkout, upgrade and transaction management process is vital to retention and preventing potential chargeback issues.”

Looking at emerging countries on the mobile map for adult entertainment products, Zhu of Mobius Payments said that her focus is on Asia.

“In China, it is illegal to produce adult content, but not to consume it,” Zhu said. “This is a huge market, and a titanic middle class that’s only getting larger.”

Said Jackson: “I also see an interesting opportunity to focus on emerging countries and regions, in which adult content or even online dating is frowned upon.”

“Using a solely mobile-focused content model, the users in these countries will not access content or services from the family desktop — but they will access it in private,” he said. “In many cases, the only way to reach these markets is mobile.”

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