MACH, the Luxembourg-headquartered provider of cloud-based telecom services, has announced the launch of its Bill Shock Prevention service, to be marketed to mobile providers worldwide. With it, the operators will be able to keep track of their subscribers’ roaming data usage and send them an SMS text warning when usage approaches a pre-set limit. This service is intended to avoid so-called “bill shock,” which can occur when a consumer is unaware of the excess charges being applied while using a device on roam. Operators will also be able to block service after a limit is reached, in order to prevent bad debts and bill disputes – problems that have frequently occurred in connection with roaming services.
In addition, MACH’s service will enable providers to offer end users the ability to monitor their own data roaming and associated charges in real time, so as to become more aware of their usage patterns and thus regulate them.
Bill Shock Prevention is part of MACH’s M Serve portfolio of cloud-based mobile data monetization services, which also includes the Data Roaming Engine, by which operators can provide their subscribers with custom-tailored roaming packages.
MACH’s new service is similar to bill shock solutions currently provided by New York-based Comverse Technology and London-based Volubill. The need for these services, and those likely to be introduced by others, has escalated substantially in recent months as regulators in the EU and US work to stamp out bill shock by insisting that operators provide enhanced transparency of data roaming charges. The vendors of the aforementioned solutions recognize that they have a receptive audience among operators as the latter try to get ahead of regulatory dictates.
We think that MACH’s solution serves several real needs and therefore should prove attractive to mobile service providers and their customers. Since bill shock can cause resentment among consumers, by preventing it MACH’s new service can increase customer satisfaction and therefore customer loyalty, which would increase revenue over time.
In addition, according to a recent survey conducted by MACH in collaboration with YouGov, 58% of consumers turn off their data connectivity when traveling abroad due to fear of excess charges. (These findings are consistent with our own view of customer behavior.) Obviously this refusal of service causes a loss of revenue to mobile operators and the amounts involved worldwide are substantial. MACH’s service, as well as those offered by Comverse and Volubill, will help mobile operators recoup some portion of this lost revenue by giving consumers the confidence to use data services while roaming.
Business customers are likely to appreciate bill shock prevention services, as well, but for a different reason: With them in place, companies will be in a much better position to monitor and regulate their employees’ data usage while those employees are traveling abroad on business.
Finally, Tarifica believes that in the current regulatory climate, bill shock products, like the one recently introduced by MACH, will find favor among mobile service providers, particularly in Europe (as well as the US) where recently enacted anti-bill-shock rules require providers to send warnings to subscribers when data usage limits are being approached. In MACH’s case, its service gives operators a ready-to-use, hardware-free and simple way to comply with these and similar regulations.
The real challenge will be getting operators in Asia to adopt these solutions, given that there has not been much in the way of regulatory stirrings in that part of the world to put a lid on bill shock.