What is direct carrier billing?

Anyone with a mobile phone can make online payments

Direct carrier billing (“DCB”) is an online payment method. It allows users to make purchases by charging payments to their mobile phone bill. This payment method is available to all smartphone and feature phone owners. The only thing needed to confirm payments is a device with a SIM card.

Works on computers, phones, tablets and Smart TV-s

Consumers can use carrier billing to buy content on any digital platform. For example, you can buy a music streaming subscription on a tablet device by confirming the payment on your phone. Fortumo's direct carrier billing products work on any computer, tablet, smartphone, feature phone and smart TV.

Simplest checkout experience for online environments

Direct carrier billing is different from other mobile payment methods (mobile wallets, NFC solutions) because it does not rely on banking infrastructure. While the other payment methods are convenient for point-of-sale purchases, direct carrier billing provides the best purchasing experience in online environments.

Why is direct carrier billing popular?

There are 5 times more mobile phones than credit cards.

Simple checkout flows mean up to 10x better conversion rates.

Carrier billing is secure: no personal data gets transmitted.

Direct carrier billing provides a bigger payment coverage than traditional payment methods like credit cards. In countries like India, only 2% of all people have a credit card. Globally, there is only 1 credit card owner per 5 mobile phone owners. Even in mature markets with high ownership of bank cards, consumers prefer to pay with direct carrier billing due to its simplicity and security.

Better conversion rates

Direct carrier billing requires the user only to enter their phone number to make a payment. In contrast, card-based payments require the user to share their name, card number, home address etc. Due to a shorter checkout flow, merchants using both payment methods report up to 10x better conversion rates with carrier billing than with credit cards.

Smooth customer experience

Carrier billing is convenient. There is no need to sign up for any additional accounts or fill out any forms. Payments are completed in a manner of seconds and provide the best checkout experience on mobile devices, where filling out forms is tiresome. For a global overview of user spending behaviour, check out our interactive map.

Consumer identity is protected

Making payments with carrier billing is secure. No personal data is transmitted during the payment process so there is no need to worry about identity theft. Direct carrier billing always requires the user to confirm the payment on a physical device. This makes card-not-present type fraud impossible. You can read more about fraud prevention with carrier billing from our blog post.

Direct carrier billing helps unbanked people purchase online content and services

In emerging markets, direct carrier billing is often the only way for users to purchase online content and services. Digital content and physical services merchants are increasingly relying on carrier billing because a growing amount of their users are located in these markets. You can read more about how carriers are becoming the leading payment processors in these markets from our white paper.


How does direct carrier billing work?

One integration with Fortumo connects merchants to over 350 carriers.

Fortumo facilitates payments between merchants, consumers & carrier.

One global net payout makes reconciliation simple for merchants.

With Fortumo, merchants can collect payments using direct carrier billing in 100 markets through 350 mobile operators. In order to do so, they need to create an account with Fortumo, set up a payment service to define what and for how much they want to sell and then integrate Fortumo’s payment button inside of their service.

When a user clicks the payment button, they are shown a payment window, which is fully hosted and localized by Fortumo. The user enters their phone number and confirms which service they wish to purchase. You can try for yourself how the purchasing experience looks from a consumer perspective:

Try Demo Payment

Once a user confirms their purchase, Fortumo checks with its mobile operator partners which network the end-user is subscribed to and whether they have enough money on their account to make the purchase. Fortumo then notifies the carrier to deduct the money from the account and asks the merchant to give the user the services they paid for.

Worry-free money transfers

At the end of each month, carriers transfer Fortumo the money that has been paid by all the consumers globally. Fortumo then wires the money to the merchants’ bank accounts. Fortumo makes reconciliation for merchants very simple: we pay all the required taxes in all markets globally which means that the money received by merchants is a net sum with taxes already excluded.

True direct carrier billing

Many regional and local carrier billing providers claim to provide direct carrier billing because the payments are directly charged to the user’s phone bill. But this is done with any mobile payment transaction and has no actual value or meaning. True direct carrier billing means that no legacy Premium SMS technologies are used and the carrier billing provider has a direct contract with the mobile operator.

Ready-made solution

A growing amount of mobile operators and digital content merchants are choosing to integrate direct carrier billing through partners like Fortumo instead of doing it on their own. Fortumo’s role and expertise in the direct carrier billing ecosystem is to enable both sides to launch payments rapidly. Fortumo takes care of the integration, business development and operational support activities such as end-user support and merchant onboarding.

Where is direct carrier billing used?

Fortumo provides direct carrier billing to a wide variety of merchants. This includes app stores (Google Play), digital media providers (Spotify, Sony, iflix), gaming companies (EA Mobile, Gameloft, Kinguin) and social networks (Facebook, Badoo).


What are the fees related to direct carrier billing?

Average payouts to merchants range in between 70%-80%.

Each mobile operator has their own commercial terms for direct carrier billing. This means revenue shares are fragmented across the world and even inside each country. Generally, direct carrier billing offers lower payout rates than card-based payments which is in turn compensated by the significant increase in reach and conversion. You can see the full overview of commercial terms of carrier billing when you sign up with Fortumo and visit our Revenue Shares page.

How to get started with carrier billing?

Getting started with Fortumo is simple. You can register a free account and there are no sign-up fees, monthly fees or recurring costs. Both individuals and companies can use Fortumo’s platform. Any type of digital content can be monetized through Fortumo except for gambling, adult and donation services.
You can set up your account here and integration documentation for Fortumo’s products can be found in our Merchants Portal. We recommend you first read through our Getting Started guide.