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ImpulsePay uses carrier billing to streamline mobile payments

Mobile billing service ImpulsePay is using its new Payforit3 platform to let consumers make purchases through any mobile handset.

The Payforit service, supported by all British carriers, charges purchases through consumers’ mobile phone accounts, so no credit card is required. Payforit3 lets users make purchases in 16 keystrokes and includes no surcharge.

“ImpulsePay’s service is built on the Payforit platform and is specifically designed to create a mobile purchasing solution for websites – allowing them to offer a better and more inclusive service,” said Chris Newell, CEO of ImpulsePay, Lincoln, Britain.

“Using ImpulsePay consumers only have to enter 16 keystrokes, compared with around 120 for a credit card payment, while for the vendor the target audience is dramatically increased as far more people have mobiles than credit cards [in Britain],” he said.

ImpulsePay lets consumers pay for products and services via their mobile device.

The potential for WAP billing
WAP billing provides a simple alternative to purchasing products using credit cards or premium SMS services on a handset.

Interfacing with carriers, WAP billing payments are assessed by a consumer’s mobile network – either on his or her monthly bill or against credit held with the carrier.

In the United States, some companies have used WAP billing to expedite the purchase process.

For example, Progressive Auto Insurance is using the process to speed up orders on its mobile Web site (see story).

However, a study conducted by Harris Interactive last summer cast doubt on the idea that billing managed through carriers would ever become dominant in the United States, since American consumers tend to trust credit card companies more than mobile carriers (see story).

Still, WAP billing services in Britain – notably the Payforit service, which was first launched in 2006 and works across all mobile operators and with all mobile handsets – are enjoying success, per ImpulsePay.

The ImpulsePay platform
ImpulsePay is the first company to use the newest version of the dominant British WAP billing service.

The platform is integrated into participating businesses mobile Web sites, and completes purchases in three steps:

First, users input their mobile number into the payment platform.

Then ImpulsePay generates a unique code that is sent to the mobile device. This guarantees that the correct mobile account is billed.

Finally, after the consumer plugs that identifying code back into the platform, the purchase is completed and charged to the customer’s mobile bill.

“The service is really simple to use,” Mr. Newell said. “Businesses just enter a single line of code or create a button or hyperlink to their payment page.

“[The process] allows billing to be made instantly and gives the business an opportunity to positively handle situations when there is not enough credit available, instead of simply waiting for a top up [credit extension] to take place,” he said.
One application of the platform was by the British company Park Pay & Go, which let motorists use ImpulsePay’s service to buy time for parking space as an easier alternative to metered parking.

“We’re targeting the service to anyone that uses the web to sell goods or services,” Mr. Newell said. “By using ImpulsePay’s service they can extend their audience – as not everyone has a credit card, yet nearly everyone carries a mobile phone.

“As you can see from the car park example, there are a number of innovative uses of the service too,” he said.

Mobile purchasing will continue to grow in prominence for a number of reasons, according to ImpulsePay.

“Mobile phones will continue to increase in popularity,” Mr. Newell said. “More and more applications and services will be available for mobile users.

“And, as the mobile networks continue to get more powerful, more ‘Web’ services will be available on mobile phones,” he said. “Premium SMS, which has not gotten the best reputation, will be overtaken by other mobile purchasing options – such as ImpulsePay’s service – giving consumers more confidence.”

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer, New York.