Movistar Chile has begun offering carrier billing for purchases from Apple. The operator’s postpaid mobile customers who have Apple devices will be able to pay via their mobile bill for purchases in the App Store and from Apple Music, iTunes and Apple Books.
The operator said that this is a first in South America. The service is expected to ease purchases for customers who do not have a credit card.
Carrier billing is an old concept that has proved beneficial to operators. Generally speaking, it promotes entertainment content purchasing and app purchasing, which in turns encourages more data use on the part of customers, which in turn generates revenue for the operator. It can also improve customer retention (because users come to depend on the operator for their interaction with their device company and its products) and promote better relations between customer and operator.
In this case in Chile, however, the operator’s claim that the carrier billing is aimed at those who do not have credit cards aligns this arrangement more with mobile money. Mobile money, which allows the unbanked to pay for goods and services through their mobile bills, has of course played a huge role in emerging economies. But for carrier billing to be positioned not just as a convenience for relatively affluent users of high-end devices like the iPhone and so on but as a form of targeted mobile money is indeed different. Movistar says this is a first in South America; if it has correctly identified a significant demographic of users who favor Apple products but lack credit card accounts, the carrier billing should lead to rewards for both operator and users. And even if not, it can certainly benefit any kind of Movistar customer who uses Apple devices.