Infographic: how do credit cards stack up against carrier billing?

Consumers want safety in their online purchases, something which is a big concern with credit cards. For digital goods, carrier billing is the safest way to make online payments: no personal data is transmitted during the checkout process and physical access to the mobile phone is required to confirm the payment.

But beside this, carrier billing also provides a friendlier checkout experience. To showcase this, we’ve taken four digital services using credit card billing and illustrated how their checkout process would look like with mobile payments. These services are Grab (ridesharing), The New York Times (digital publishing), Busuu (e-learning) and OLX (classified ads).

Check out the result below or view the full size infographic!

Carrier billing in Middle East & Africa: 2016 market report by Fortumo

Carrier billing in Middle East & Africa - 2016 market report by Fortumo

Today we publish our latest market report, giving an overview of the mobile payments landscape of the Middle Eastern and African regions.

This report covers 12 markets where Fortumo has coverage. These markets are: Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

The Middle Eastern and African regions are very diverse and economic well-being, access to online payments and user spending can dier ten-fold even in neighboring countries. This market report aims to help digital services merchants understand these dierences and fine-tune their content and monetization strategy to maximize revenue from each market.

Download the report below to learn more about the region’s demographics, carrier profiles, user spending behavior, localization and platform preferences.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Please leave this field empty.

Case study: HOOQ increasing revenue with Fortumo carrier billing

Case study - HOOQ increasing revenue with Fortumo carrier billing

Today we want to share with you a case study profiling HOOQ. HOOQ is an Asian premium video-on-demand service that gives users access to over 35,000 hours of Hollywood blockbusters and popular local programs. HOOQ currently operates in the Philippines, Thailand, India, and Indonesia.

Due to their market focus, most people did not have a credit card to pay for a premium subscription to HOOQ. Download the case study below and find out why HOOQ chose to partner with Fortumo to increase their revenue!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Please leave this field empty.

How to ensure a good payment experience through user notifications?

Fortumo - how to ensure a good payment experience through user notifications

Today we want to shed light on one of the features of our Payments API, used by the world’s leading app stores like Google Play and digital media merchants like Spotify to provide carrier billing to their customers. Fortumo’s Messaging API will allow merchants to take full control over how, when and what kind of payment related notifications are sent to the users.

There are two reasons for why we have built such functionality. First, market regulations are changing and in a number of countries the merchant is not allowed access to the user’s phone number. This is done in order to protect the identity of users who make payments using carrier billing. Instead, merchants are provided with an encrypted identifier to match a payment with a user of their service. Second, we see that merchants often feel the need to customize the notifications management in order to better suit their service and monetization logic.

Our Messaging API will help resolve both challenges, especially in case of subscription services for which notifications need to be sent out on an ongoing basis. Now merchants can just tell Fortumo what they want to say to the user and we ask on their behalf from the carrier to deliver that message.

Merchants using a recurring business model know how to manage their customers and notifications sent to them best. But as the focus of carrier billing is on emerging markets for which expertise is often lacking, we want to point out important challenges merchants should keep in mind in terms of user notifications in these regions.

A majority of users in emerging markets have a prepaid SIM card and prefer a pay-as-you-go approach to service consumption. This means their payment capability is limited by their account balance and often that balance is relatively low. In India for example, the average prepaid SIM card holds about ₹50 ($0.7). It doesn’t mean users are not spending money (Indian gamers spend roughly the global average on games) but just that their spending behavior is different.

For merchants using recurring billing it means that for such markets it makes sense to notify the user before a charge is done. Making sure the user has sufficient balance on their SIM card increases the likelihood of a successful payment. For many people the billing attempt will otherwise fail and they will lose access to the service. Instead of having the charge done automatically, they will go and have to make another purchase manually, causing churn.

Besides accounting for regional peculiarities in user spending behavior, notifications should be customized for “forgetful” users as well. If a user has forgotten to keep enough money on their account in the past and their payment has failed, they are likely to forget it in the future as well. For such users, sending a friendly reminder helps keep churn numbers positive, regardless of whether they live in Brazil, Sweden or Indonesia.

Regardless of how much payment related notifications and how often you are sending out, we always would suggest to have them localized. Whether it’s a text message, e-mail or push notification, the content of this communication should be in the user’s native language. After all, a majority of the world does not speak English.

Are you a merchant using Fortumo’s Payments API and want to take advantage of our Messaging API to manage user notifications? Get in touch with your account manager!

How mobile operators are filling the e-payments gap in emerging markets

How mobile operators are filling the e-payments gap in emerging markets - Fortumo

This post was originally published on E27.

Facebook announced support for chatbot payments a few weeks ago. But depending on the market, up to 99 per cent of people will be unable to use the feature. How come?

Outside of US and Western Europe, card-based payments are not widely available. Credit card penetration in India stands at two per cent, Brazil at 32 per cent and Indonesia at 2 per cent. These are core markets for Facebook and others like Apple, Spotify and Netflix. Global Internet growth has slowed down but is accelerating in India.

David Marcus has a background in alternative payments. So Facebook must be aware that unbanked markets like India need a different approach. After all, why else would they have launched Facebook Lite and But what are other merchants doing and what are the options to capture this audience?

For card-based payments, the setup is simple. Integrate a gateway and process payments from any bank card owner. But most people in emerging markets don’t even have a bank account. Forty-seven per cent of Indians, 32 per cent of Brazilians and 64 per cent of Indonesians are not customers of any bank. The solution is to add local payment methods, e.g. digital wallets. But this approach is not scalable as the alternative payments landscape is fragmented.

Read more »

September mobile industry news roundup

September mobile industry news roundup by Fortumo

Mobile content consumption in Asia is about to get a huge boost in the near future. India’s telco ecosystem has been stirred up by the launch of a new mobile operator which has lead to pricing wars between the carriers. For consumers, this means cheaper access to data and as a result, digital content merchants are bound to gain. By chance, we also published our India market report in September, so this is a good time to catch up on the quickly changing economics of the market. For other news from the industry in September, check out our monthly recap below.

General mobile



Digital content


Case study: how does Fortumo help Kinguin earn revenue with carrier billing?

Case study - how does Fortumo help Kinguin earn revenue with carrier billing

Today we are excited to publish a new case study. Kinguin is one of the most popular marketplaces in the world for digital games with thousands of products available and more than 3 million satisfied customers.

In this case study, we take a look at why Kinguin decided to integrate Fortumo’s carrier billing solution, how they have increased revenue by adding one of the most widely available payment methods to their checkout and what are the benefits to Kinguin’s customers.

Enter your contact details below, click “Submit” and we will send you a link to the download to your e-mail.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Please leave this field empty.

Carrier billing in India: 2016 market report by Fortumo

Carrier billing in India 2016 market report by Fortumo

Fortumo’s latest market report gives an overview of the carrier billing ecosystem in India. India is home to the world’s second largest smartphone user base after China, having overtaken the US in the beginning of 2016.

India is a mobile-first market with the primary device for online access being a mobile device. Today, a majority of these devices are still primarily feature phones but thanks to low-cost Android phones, smartphone ownership is growing rapidly. GSMA Intelligence estimates that emerging markets like India will reach 70% smartphone penetration by 2020. In fact, while internet growth in the rest of the world is slowing down, for India it is accelerating.

The large growth in smartphones presents a significant opportunity for digital content merchants. As a low income economy, smartphones are one of the key channels of entertainment for a majority of the population. This is also evident in the fact that people cut back on spending in other consumer goods segments at the expense of entertainment on smartphones. Despite lower income, Indians spend as much money on mobile games as the global average.

With 1.3 billion people, most digital content merchants now have expansion in India part of their core strategy. But India is a very different market from say the US or Germany. Lower user income and access to payment methods, cultural differences and lack of access to mobile data are the key differentiators which require merchants to create an alternative strategy to growing in India.

Enter your contact details below, click “Submit” and we will send you a link to the download to your e-mail.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Please leave this field empty.

How will Jio’s launch impact India’s digital ecosystem?

How will Jio’s launch impact India's digital ecosystem

This post originally appeared on Indian Television.

Jio’s launch two weeks ago has caused a stir in the telecommunications industry. Calls and messages on the new network are free while mobile data is 3 to 5 times cheaper compared to competitors. For Jio as a disruptor this is a reasonable strategy: Silicon Valley’s leading VCPeter Thiel has said that “[start-ups] have to be 10 times better than second best”.

But in addition to rattling up the stock market, Jio’s strategy is likely to have a longer and beneficial impact on India’s digital ecosystem.

Jio has thrown a glove to other mobile operators by slashing service costs for consumers. While Jio’s offering is only available to LTE customers, that is not relevant: consumers on 2G or 3G will ask their carrier, why do they need to pay 3x to 5x more for slower internet speeds? This is likely to create a pricing war between India’s mobile operators. Such price wars have been commonplace across the world, latest example being Singapore just a few months ago.

As prices go down, more people will switch on their mobile data services for the first time. GSMA Intelligence estimates only 15% of people in India used mobile broadband in Q4 2015, while smartphone ownership would allow much higher rates already today. Cheaper data increases the share of smartphone users who use mobile data but also incentivizes feature phone owners to upgrade to a smartphone as the main benefit (online access) becomes affordable.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this would accelerate the progress of digital democracy or the vision of digital India by breaking the perception barrier among the bottom of the pyramid. “Data is for everybody” would be the new mantra.

This will also spur the growth of affordable 4G devices and a multi-SIM environment; further reducing the customer loyalty towards the network. Customers will keep on switching for better price or data bandwidth.

This in turn helps the digital ecosystem grow. While India’s own services like Ditto TV, Hooq and Gaana are already present in the market, a majority of global digital merchants do not have India in their sights yet. Beside few smartphone owners and lack of access to online payment methods, low mobile data penetration has been one of the key roadblocks.

Globally, average Netflix users watch 133 hours of video per month which translates into roughly 133 gigabytes (GB)  of data consumed. The average Spotify user listens to 28 hours of music (34-35 GB data) per month. In Western markets a large portion of this content is consumed through landline internet, so such data volumes are not an issue. But for a mobile-first market like India, they have so far made such digital services inaccessible to a large part of the population.

Reduced cost of data will then result in a bigger uptake of digital content services as users can consume more for less. Local providers will be able to increase their audience while international merchants like Netflix, Spotify, Apple and Amazon are going to reconsider their strategy for India in light of the changing ecosystem.

With the challenges of mobile data considerably reduced, all other factors point to growth and make India one of the most attractive markets for global merchants.

Another consequence of the data revolution is voice over IP services like Skype, Viber, and others will get more acceptance in the eco-system from the telecom operators; while this will create more opportunities for them we can see many home-grown companies ready to challenge their hegemonies. Obviously, for customers the more means the merrier.

While the pricing war will create a temporary setback for carriers, in the long run everyone will benefit. Consumers get affordable internet and access to more digital content. Carriers will be able to increase user stickiness (by negotiating and offering exclusive deals and co-promotions with digital service providers) and average revenue per user (from both increased data consumption and from providing carrier billing for these services).

5 steps for streaming services to increase user acquisition

5 steps for streaming services to increase user acquisition

As evident from our monthly industry overviews, the streaming industry is booming and especially so in Asia. Revenue for record labels from streaming grew an estimated 31% last year. This growth can at least in part be attributed to the growing mobile audience in Asia, due to the fact that the region has skipped several technological steps (i.e. desktop devices) and content consumption is driven primarily thanks to mobile devices.

But there are also challenges ahead to the growth of the streaming industry due to demographic differences in the region as compared to Western markets. Technology adoption (both smartphones and streaming services) follows the classic Roger’s bell curve:


In Western markets almost everyone has a smartphone and expendable income which means “innovators” are the ones who are simply more interested in new technologies. But in Asia the adoption of new technologies is heavily dependent on income.

Most people do not have money to buy a smartphone so they cannot simply be an “innovator”, even if they wanted to. As smartphone prices go down, people with less income start buying smartphones and consuming digital services as well. With lower income hindering growth, how can streaming services continue to grow?

#1: Using localized pricing and payment methods

The key reason in Asia for why people cancel their music or video streaming service is high pricing. If local pricing is not applied to services, price sensitivity of users with lower income leads to either not trying out the service in the first place or cancelling it after the first invoice arrives. User spending is very different across the world. For example, we can take a look at two merchants using Fortumo:

  • Social network: average payment size in Germany is €3.99; in India €2.1
  • Game developer: average payment size in Germany €11.4; in Poland €2.3

Furthermore, access to payment methods is different across the world. In Europe and North America most people have a credit card. This is in contrast with India, the world’s fastest growing smartphone market. Here, only 4% people and 20% of smartphone owners have access to a credit card.

#2: Offering free trials

Giving away the first period of access to a streaming service greatly helps with user acquisition significantly. This is especially the case in more price-sensitive emerging markets where users are less reluctant to give away their money. Free trials simply work: an estimated 93% of Netflix trial users convert to paying users. Whether it’s with credit card payments or carrier billing, trials help grow the paying user base in the long run.

#3: Adapting the proposal

In several markets, the classical monthly subscription might not be the most suitable option for the local users and therefore also for the streaming service providers. Considering that royalties need to be evaluated, adjusting the proposal for example to also offer weekly subscription packages or a la carte content can strongly grow revenue, reduce churn and increase user acquisition.

#4: Localizing and personalizing content

People are more willing to pay for digital content that is familiar to them. Understanding what is being streamed is an obvious presumption for asking users to pay for the service. In a majority of emerging markets, people simply won’t understand the content without localization: only 0.8% of Chinese, 5% of Brazilians and Russians and 10% of Indians speak English. Localizing content and personalizing it to match user preferences gives people more incentive to pay for a streaming services.

#5: Partnerships and promotions with mobile operators

In emerging markets, carriers are very often the biggest consumer companies with the best marketing channels to access mobile users. As streaming services in mobile-first markets are primarily delivered through smartphones, it makes perfect sense for streaming companies to seek out partnerships with mobile operators, whether it’s free access to the service or free data for the users. For the mobile operator, such partnerships are beneficial as well as they increase the value for subscribers from staying on that network, thus reducing churn.