Microsoft extends operator billing platform for Windows Phones apps

Customers of Canadian operator Telus can now charge Microsoft Marketplace apps to their mobile phone bill

Microsoft has struck a deal which will make it easier for more Windows Phone users to pay for Marketplace apps via their phone bill. Payments on Microsoft Marketplace are handled by Microsoft's new Commerce Platform, which it has now integrated with the Direct Billing Gateway (DBG) developed by Mach.

The integration makes it easier for mobile carriers to add operator billing, according to Mach. Among the first to profit from the new arrangement will be customers of Canadian operator Telus Communications.

For users, operator billing makes the payment process easier, according to Charles Damen, vice president Mobile Billing and Payments at Mach. They can just click to buy, without having to enter credit card details or store them on the app store servers, Damen said.

Microsoft made its first connection to Mach's gateway in January last year, but, so far, take-up has been slow. Mach says 50 operators use DBG to bill for content downloads and applications, but only two are using it to offer direct billing for Windows Phone users: Telus and Australia's Telstra.

The growing variety of Windows Phones has increased the interest for Microsoft's operating system, according to Damen, who expects more carriers will join Telus and Telstra this year, but isn't willing to announce any details. Mobile carriers have also been upgrading their own systems to be able to handle the billing method, he said.

Operator billing options on Android and Windows Phone allow carriers to be part of app stores, in contrast to Apple's App Store, which completely excludes operators from the application billing process.

Today, operators such as Vodafone, Telenor, Sprint and AT&T offer users the option to pay for apps on their monthly bill. Orange and T-Mobile have also added operator billing for Windows Phone apps using other payment platforms.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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