Skype inks deal to tack payments onto your mobile bill
VoIP operator becomes even more OTT
Microsoft's VoIP operation Skype has signed a deal with MACH linking customers' Skype accounts and their mobile bills, allowing them to bypass credit card firms and PayPal when they cough up their payments.
The deal won't see Skype minutes on mobile bills, but it will enable customers to buy Skype minutes using the mobile or desktop Skype apps, and then have the cost added to their mobile-phone bill or deducted from their pre-paid account rather than having to pay with a credit card or PayPal account.
That's accomplished thanks to billing-specialist MACH, whose servers integrate with network operators around the world to create billable events – exactly which operators and where they're based the company isn't saying, only that deployment will start in October. For post-paid mobile that's relatively easy – the line item is just added to the bill – but with a pre-paid account the money has to be deduced in real time, which is a little more complicated.
The majority of Skype users don't pay of course; video and audio calls to other Skype users are free and Skype's peer-to-peer nature makes them cheap to provision. Skype's revenue, such as it is, comes from those who pay for the ability to call normal phones, and some embedded advertising, but making it easier to pay is always desirable.
Currently Skype accepts the usual range of credit cards and PayPal, as well as bank transfers which can take several days to process but are cheaper for the VoIP outfit to process.
Taking money from a mobile account will probably be a little cheaper than doing so from a credit card. MACH will still want a cut, but not a large one, but more importantly it will make it easier to pay for Skype even if you don't have a credit card or bank account.
If Skype is going to be better integrated into Windows Phone handsets, and challenge the role of mobile operators as providers of voice telephony, then billing integration was a necessary step, and one which is now possible assuming the operators permit it.
re: Neutral traffic
Tiered services perhaps? Skype identifies its traffic so telcos can make it a bit worse than proper voice, if telcos will allow skype to bill via their service and are willing to split revenue.
Just my guess.
Just so long as they don't try to restrict Skype and other VOIP traffic over their data networks.
Which certain telcos would love to do, I'm sure.
I'm surprised the operators would go for it actually - what's in it for them, other than a small commission? They are making it easier for their customers to circumvent their overpriced calling services.
Billing they have down...try pulling your credit card details...
Has anyone tried to do ANYTHING with the financials of your Skype account lately? Oh sure, click a link to add credits, and it goes right through like you are the only client connected to their servers. Other links for purchase history and so forth? Completely unavailable. 404 through the website, and through the client? Well, it claims you are offline. Not to mention atrocious response time for adding contacts...which means that credits get eaten by calls getting forwarded to phones. Disabled forwarding now that all my credits are gone. Cannot get to anything resembling a purchase history etc screen. Then browsing the Support? Page loads are worse than a shared connection over 14.4kbps. Complete meltdown over at the Skype Server Farms?