Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Amdocs, Vesta partner to offer carriers prepaid charging, top-up

Customer experience systems provider Amdocs and electronic payment specialist Vesta Corp. have partnered to help mobile service providers improve the customer payment experience for prepaid users.

Under the agreement, the two companies are offering a platform incorporating Vesta’s proprietary top-up service with Amdocs prepaid – software for service creation and delivery, real-time charging and customer management. With prepaid proliferating and customer expectations around prepaid are equivalent to those of postpaid customers, BSS systems, namely charging, must adopt to accommodate the changing nature of prepaid, per Amdocs.

“Amdocs is aiming to provide carriers with an end-to-end prepaid solution addressing all aspects of the prepaid customer experience Rafi Kretchmer, Tel Aviv, Israel-based product marketing director of revenue management at Amdocs. “As such, we augment our offering from real-time charging and rating to include prepaid customer experience elements.

“In the case of Vesta, since the top-up experience has a direct impact on prepaid subscribers’ ARPU, as well as churn propensity, combining the Amdocs prepaid and Vesta platform can bring tangible and quantifiable benefits,” he said.

“As an example, streamlining the registration and first call process, and allowing for direct top-up as the default replenishment method, significantly increases the amount of subscribers using this method.”

Amdocs specializes in customer experience systems enabling service providers to explore new business models and streamline operations.

Headquartered in Portland, OR, with operations in Europe and China, Vesta’s clients include AT&T, Boost Mobile, China Mobile, China Unicom, Cricket Communications, Meteor Mobile Communications, O2, Sprint, T-Mobile, Tele2, Verizon, Vodafone and Yoigo.

Prepaid is a growing segment
Prepaid usage is increasing globally. Informa Telecom and Media research indicates that prepaid subscriptions claimed 72 percent of all global subscriptions in the second quarter of 2009.

Prepaid users pose a growing challenge for service providers as, on the one hand, competition for their business is intensifying, while on the other, the lack of a contract means they are more likely to churn.

Today’s prepaid offerings mostly focus on real-time charging and replenishment capabilities.

Amdocs claims that its offerings should evolve to help service providers gain more control over the satisfaction levels and loyalty of the prepaid consumer.

The joint Amdocs and Vesta platform enables service providers to offer end-users various top-up channels, coupled with multiple pricing schemes, such as hybrid prepaid/postpaid models.

The joint offering includes the Amdocs prepaid platform and Vesta’s mobile payment platform.

Amdocs prepaid provides charging capabilities for the creation of offers that bundle services such as voice, data and SMS and prepaid/postpaid payment channels.

Amdocs prepaid is based on Amdocs’ Turbo Charging technology, which has demonstrated the ability to process 276 million calls during peak calling hours, also known as busy hour call attempts.

Vesta claims that its mobile payment platform enables end-users to top-up quickly, securely and without registering, through a broad selection of direct payment channels, including online, over the phone or by an automatic procedure when payment is automatically deducted on a given day, when hitting a low balance or at the balance expiry.

Additionally, the Vesta platform lets the service provider decline fewer top-up requests and reduce the risk associated with non-cash payments, thereby maximizing top-up revenue.

Amdocs and Vesta have joint customers where both companies’ products were already installed prior to the partnership.

The payment channels that the partners offer include online, IVR (automated interactive voice response through the phone), live agent, several handset-based options (SMS, mobile Internet, applications) and automatic top up (based on low balance, expiration date or calendar-based). 

Some key features of the payment service include gifting, where anyone can top-up an account, multiple device support and multiple user support.

When evaluating prepaid charging systems for this new prepaid era, service providers need to consider the following implications for their charging systems, per Amdocs:

Support significant subscriber and data event growth – pre-paid charging systems need to cost efficiently scale to support the ever-increasing number of subscribers and events and maintain blistering performance for event processing, latency and busy hour call attempts.

Rapidly introduce next-generation services beyond voice and SMS across prepaid and postpaid for enhanced business flexibility.

Time to market is of critical importance, especially in the highly fragmented prepaid market characterized by high churn rates and low levels of loyalty.

Evolve towards convergent and hybrid business models.

“Top-up through the electronic channels is growing rapidly worldwide, and it is being driven by the several trends, including rapid growth in card usage,” Mr. Kretchmer said. “Global electronic transactions grew by 83 percent in the last five years.

“Consumers are increasingly connected,” he said. “Worldwide Internet usage has grown by 31 percent in the last three years.”