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Contents Under Pressure

When it comes to wireless content, most mobile operators turn to aggregators or cut licensing deals with individual companies to provide carrier-specific offerings as a competitive differentiator. However, the approach means an inherently limited array of content offerings for consumers, and an increase in management complexity for operators. Crisp Wireless mLogic Store and Billing Concepts Inc.s Click&Buy services help providers avoid these problems by enabling a simple way to sell mobile content and applications from Web storefronts.

Rather than gathering content themselves, mobile operators simply enable content delivery. Using mobile devices, consumers can browse and purchase content directly from the content providers by supplying their phone numbers. Charges for the content show up on customers cell phone bills.

With the mLogic Store, a contentmanagement and e-commerce solution, content providers whether a music download company or a cable channel can sell ringtones, audio clips, graphics, games and other media assets via Web sites, branded mobile portals and in-store kiosks that are mLogic-enabled.


Click&Buy iTunes Implementation

Providing a similar option, settlement and clearinghouse Billing Concepts is working with Webpay International AG to bring a global payment and billing service for digital content, Click&Buy, to the United States. Consumers register for a Click&Buy account from their mobile operators, to be billed with their mobile phone numbers, and can then use that account at any Click&Buy merchant worldwide to purchase content for their phones. Click&Buy has signed more than 30 online merchants, including abc.com and kipplinger.com.

Both systems can support prepaid or post-paid mobile rating systems, and can incorporate coupon campaigns, contests and quizzes, and other promotions. Participating carriers make a fee per transaction in exchange for enabling the content.

The idea here is to provide a Web site with interfaces to the carrier billing systems, says Boris Fridman, CEO of Crisp Wireless. The carrier makes money as a partner, but someone else markets and delivers it. Its a more efficient way for provisioning and distributing content within the carrier ecosystem.

Crisp Wireless has a direct billing association with Cingular Wireless, but also can deliver content to carrier networks using premium SMS messaging infrastructure. A message is sent to the user, who then accepts the charges. The event is then billed according to what the content provider wishes to charge.

Similarly, content merchants pay a fee to Click&Buy for each transaction, which then is shared with the carrier. Click&Buy is using Billing Concepts Enabill multichannel payment system and clearing and settlement functions to enable carrier billing. Think of us as the Visa network for content, explains Randy Brouckman, CTO at Billing Concepts. Interfacing to a carrier is a matter of integrating a gateway, and were up and running in one to two days. We take care of the billing and the transactions for them.

With carriers acting as the distribution channels and making money in transaction fees while content providers realize another sales outlet, the situation is an attractive one for all involved, says Fabian Siegel, CEO and president of Click&Buy United States. There is no downside here, he says. The consumer wins, carriers win and content providers win.

Links
Billing Concepts Inc. www.billingconcepts.com
Crisp Wireless www.crispwireless.com
Webpay International AG www.webpay-international.com

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