Microsoft, Idea Partner To Simplify Billing Purchase

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jan 13, 2015

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Microsoft Mobiles, maker of Lumia smartphones has partnered with Idea Cellular to introduce operator billing for the Windows Store for Idea subscribers. With this option, subscribers will not require credit cards or other electronic payment options to purchase paid content.

The development simplifies a consumer’s access to premium apps on Windows Store through a convenient purchase process, said Idea CMO Sashi Shankar. “We are happy to be the first operator to partner with Microsoft for Windows Store and offer our consumers the ease to download a range of local and global applications without worrying about the mode of payment,” he said.

An Idea Cellular customer can buy an app or products within an app worth up to Rs 300 in a single purchase, without keying in credit card details. A two-step authorisation process is required to ensure security of the transaction when using credit cards online. The companies estimate that India has only 19 million credit card customers and this limits the download capability for the users and believe that operator billing is especially useful in a country like India, where the credit card culture has not yet matured and most smartphone users are either not possessing a credit card or unwilling to use them for the purpose.

Microsoft had put up details about operator billing in emerging markets on its official blog. According to the company, “many of us don’t think twice about making an online purchase with a credit card these days, but that isn’t true everywhere in the world. The World Bank estimates that 93% of people in emerging markets don’t have a credit which means the majority of those people cannot purchase apps from most global app stores…. We set out to meet the growing demand for apps in emerging markets by working with operators around the world to help their customers make purchases with their mobile phone account.”

Globally, Microsoft has tied up with operator China Mobile in China, Claro in Brazil, and Verizon Wireless in the US to rollout operator billing for Windows phone customers on those networks. As a spokesperson for Microsoft told Financial Express: “The company has established similar deals with 81 operators in 46 markets.”

According to a company release, the Windows Store currently offers over 550,000 apps and enjoys a 66% YoY growth in the number of titles available with 8 billion cumulative downloads to date.  “We have seen that operator billing helps developers increase revenues and we have witnessed an increase of 8x per month for total paid transactions in emerging markets and 3x in developed markets,” Nikhil Mathur, director (B2B & Operator Channels), Nokia India sales a subsidiary of Microsoft Mobile, said in the statement.

It can be said that Microsoft’s tie-up with Idea is a sensible strategy for both the companies especially at a market when Idea is competing with bigger players such as Airtel and Vodafone . Currently Idea has about 34 million active data users. As with the case of Microsoft, which will soon launch Windows 10 to allow intra-devices connectivity, the move will allow it the company get more developers on board – bringing more apps for its Windows Store and help the tech major compete with rivals Google Play and Apple Store. Some in the industry also believe that the tie-up may also usher similar partnerships with other operators soon, and pave the way for Google and Apple. Notably, neither Microsoft or Idea Cellular have detailed how the revenue sharing would occur, something that has always been the bone of contention with operator billing of app stores – how would the revenue be split between the store owner, developer, and the telecom operator.