As a fresh push for Digital India, the Department of Telecom (DoT) announced that mobile subscribers will now be able to pay for digital content using their prepaid account balance or through postpaid bills. Following demonetization, there has been a surge in using mobile phones for making payments. While mobile devices can be used to purchase physical items through payments apps or bank apps, the new move allows one to purchase digital content such as apps, e-books, music, and more.
In its order, DoT notes that the subscribers can download all paid digital content through their mobile phones and the payments should not exceed Rs 20,000 each time. Additionally, these purchases will not be deducted from telecom operators’ total revenue to calculate adjusted gross revenue (AGR). DoT’s announcement follows.
In India, the penetration of mobile devices is evidently higher than the penetration of credit or debit cards. With the banning of old currency notes, the population is gradually moving towards an app-based payment mechanism. However, there still lies a gap between those who are digital banking literate and those who are mobile literate. It is here that the latest move comes into play by enabling even those without access to credit, debit cards, or net banking to make digital content purchases. ALSO READ: Google to extend carrier billing for Play Store to Airtel, Vodafone subscribers
With the new move, one will be able to simply register their mobile number and based on app store support, either direct billing or prepaid balance can be used for purchases. So the next time you want to buy an e-book or a movie, you will be able to do so simply by choosing the payment method as your mobile balance or bill. It is worth noting that DoT doesn’t categorically mention if the payment system will also support digital content purchased from services like Netflix, Hotstar, Gaana, or Amazon Prime Video.
App stores such as Apple iTunes and Google Play Store already support payments through mobile phone billing. However, the system is compatible with only select carriers in limited nations. For example, Apple iTunes, App Store, or iBooks Store accept payments through mobile phone billing only in nations including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates. ALSO READ: Apple to hike price of iOS apps in India by 33%
Last year, Google introduced the direct carrier billing system in India. Initially started in partnership with Idea Cellular, the company extended the support for Airtel and Vodafone subscribers as well. Direct carrier billing allows users to make purchases on the Google Play Store and pay through integrated carrier billing instead of using credit or debit cards. The integrated carrier billing option works for both prepaid and postpaid subscribers. The purchases can be deducted from the existing prepaid balance or come added into the monthly bill in case of postpaid users.
The direct carrier billing can be activated after registering; go to Google Play -> choose the menu option on the left -> go to Account -> add payment methods -> Pay using (service provider). You will then be sent a verification code and once you apply the go, your new payments method will be activated.