You say you want a (mobile billing) revolution… It’s here!

April 9, 2009 by Lisa Oshima | Developers, Mobile, Monetization, Review

Last week at CTIA in Las Vegas, I met someone from “Billing Revolution“, a company that is trying to make mobile payments easier…a lot easier….and cheaper.  If you’ve ever tried selling something from a mobile phone, you know how much of a hassle it usually is.  Arranging sales through premium SMS or integrated carrier billing is a nightmare, and in the case of premium SMS, the experience for the consumer is equally bad.  Billing Revolution seems to be changing mobile billing for the better.

Billing Revolution facilitates the sale of software or physical merchandise via a mobile phone.  Each transaction costs the vendor .$50 plus a transaction fee, which varies depending on whether you’re selling general content or “mature” content:

  • 3.5% for general content
  • 7.5% for “mature” content

These fees seem pretty reasonable when you consider that the fees carriers charge for integrated billing and premium SMS are so high.  In the case of general content, 3.5% isn’t far off what most credit card companies charge.  And, frankly, vendors that are selling “mature content” can probably afford a few extra points.  Plus, unlike signing up to become a credit card processor, with Billing Revolution, the vendor doesn’t need to purchase hardware to process the transaction.  When a user makes a purchase, Billing Revolution processes the transaction and appears as the merchant of record on the user’s credit card statement.

Additional benefits of mobile billing via Billing Revolution include:

  • Secure purchase page
  • Single click checkout
  • No online sign-up required

The only downsides I see on Billing Revolutions service so far come for vendors that are selling very inexpensive goods.  The vendor needs to be able to swallow $.50 on each transaction.  And, the vendor is responsible for all bad debt, returns, etc.  So, if Billing Revolution agrees to process a return on behalf of a vendor’s customer, the vendor has to pay Billing Revolution for that return plus a $10 processing fee. Vendors that are selling an inexpensive product  could be in a world of hurt if enough customers request a return.  But, if they were selling their product through a big retail store, they’d be on the hook for returns, shipping fees, etc.  anyway.  So, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal, especially for vendors that have a quality product with a low likelihood of returns.

Billing Revolution already boasts a customer list that includes: Yahoo!, JumpTap, MySpace, AdMob, Gameloft, Quattro Wireless, and others.  Despite their success, rather than staying in a four star hotel, (from what I hear) the Billing Revolution team rented an RV where they slept, ate, entertained, and (thankfully) showered.  These are the kind of humble beginnings that make great stories and even better start-ups.

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  • John

    Interesting to see more focus on billing and on mobile banking. The Nokia OboPay deal highlights the interest in this space.

    The above solution looks like it might get into problems with Visa and Mastercard though. It's against the card acquirer rules to process another stores transactions on your merchant account.

    I wonder how long before Visa comes knocking on BR's RV door?






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