Boku has released a new, cross-platform carrier billing payment technology that is designed to mimic a credit card payment.

Phone-on-File, launched today, stores a consumer's phone number as a preferred payment method to enable one-click checkout and subscription purchases. This brings Boku's system in line with systems that store a specific credit or debit card as the default payment mechanism for e-commerce sales.

"For some period of time, carrier billing was a method to buy ringtones and to do premium voting on television," Adam Lee, chief product officer at Boku, said in a phone interview. "Now it is increasingly looking more and more like a credit card payment."

To access this carrier-billing technology, a shopper has to confirm authorization only once for a merchant to charge up to a specified limit. Once the technology is authorized, the San Francisco-based mobile billing provider says it can be used anywhere without the need for further confirmation that is typically required for carrier-billing transactions.

Boku tested Phone-on-File with Facebook and Spotify, observing higher conversion and revenue and a drop in user-billing failures, Boku said. More merchants will start to accept this type of carrier billing payment option if it is easy to implement, Lee predicts.

"In a lot of cases for card-on-file, a merchant might ask a consumer if they want to buy something and approve the purchase as long as they are logged in. In other cases, it might be a fingerprint ID or a pin number or password," Lee said. "But in none of those cases is a consumer being asked to put in their 16-digit credit card and 3-digit CVV. We want to take that kind of ease of use that comes from the card network and introduce it into the carrier-billing payments."

Phone-on-File charges appear directly on a customer's phone bill or are deducted from a prepaid user's balance.

Phone-on-File will first be available in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, Boku says, with rollouts in more markets a few months later. According to Lee, Boku operates in over 70 markets and nearly half of these locations are "technically capable" of supporting Phone-on-File. 

In August, Boku established direct carrier-billing agreements with the leading telcos in India.

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