Getting payment from the consumer
Payment for mobile content can be handled in several different ways, of which the simplest (and most common for on-deck purchases ala Safaricom Live) is simply to add the amount onto the customer’s mobile phone bill or deduct it from the airtime balance, in the case of prepaid phone customers.
One way to accomplish this is Premium SMS billing, which involves having one text message between customer and content provider be billed to the customer at a premium rate, which is the cost of the content. Most operators’ billing systems will support coding some messages as premium, and attaching a specified amount to them. Billing bands start at 5 sh and can go all the way to 100sh. They can go beyond the 100 sh threshold but if you’re going to sell content above that amount I would rather you opt for a different method of collection.
Interactive voice response (IVR).
By placing a voice call to a designated number and going through a voice response menu, it is possible to avoid use of the keypad altogether. The actual billing for content can be handled either by having the IVR transaction trigger a Premium SMS, or by setting up the calling number as a premium voice service number, the famed 0900 numbers
Particularly for larger purchases, where it is easier to absorb the transaction costs, or for subscription-based content services, customers can use credit or debit cards to pay for content, just as they do on the fixed Internet. There is some consumer reluctance, partly because it is inconvenient to enter long strings of credit card data to do this from the handset, and partly due to security concerns. This is a good method for Africans in the diaspora to buy local content.
More important and innovative for Africa is the Zunguka model, which is essentially an agnostic but brandable on device portal that makes users aware of content while offering multiple payment options. Can’t really go into the nitty gritty as we plan for a pilot of the same and I would much rather let you discover it 🙂 and the new experience and opportunity that it affords you as mobile content consumer , content producer and network operator. It borrows heavily from the stored value concept whose simplest form is for the consumer to prefund an account with the content seller, from which content purchases are deducted.
Getting payment from advertisers
The mobile advertising market is in a very early stage of development, and models for payment systems are still being worked out, so there are very few standard practices. When designers/developers create or repurpose the ads themselves, this is typically done on a work-for-hire basis. More from Symbiotic as the ManenoAds platform gains traction.