Microsoft East Africa, in partnership with Safaricom Ltd, Kenya’s leading mobile operator have launched carrier billing. This will enable Safaricom customers purchase applications and other content from the Windows Phone Store using airtime on their mobile lines.
According to Microsoft EA, Kenya is the second country to launch mobile operator billing in Africa after South Africa.
Kenya is the 2nd sub-Saharan country to launch mobile operator billing after S. Africa #NunuaAppsNaCredo
— Microsoft EastAfrica (@Microsoftea) July 10, 2014
The significance of this cannot be over-emphasized as this removes the need to have a credit card hooked up to your Microsoft account in order to purchase apps and other related content from the store. Purchases are made and money deducted from available credit on a user’s mobile number account – whether prepaid or postpaid.
This is especially useful as application purchases in the developing world are severely limited by the requirement to have a credit card. Innovative ways like carrier billing would reduce the barrier of entry while creating new opportunities for local developers.
Purchasing applications and other content on the Google Play Store is available using various options. Credit and Debit cards are the most common though Google also offers Direct Carrier Billing.
From the chat below, it is clear that Direct Carrier Billing is missing where it is most needed – emerging markets.
During the I/O conference, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android, Chrome and Apps talked of how Android has successfully engaged 1-billion users and is on the race to reach the next billion most of whom are in emerging markets where smartphone penetration is still low.
With the launch of the Android One initiative, we are hoping carrier billing will be included in the list of offerings.