Building Better Billing

We have entered a new era of billing where today's billing systems must meet the ever-increasing demands of the digital revolution.

New data models

Sponsored data could be the next big thing, especially since AT&T announced its sponsored data service in January. Sponsored data takes the burden of paying for mobile content or service from the customer and places it on a third-party. This enables customers to enjoy more for less, and possibly move to a lower data cap. It also places unique demands on the billing system.

First, it introduces additional complexity. Secondly, it doesn't make a lot of sense to count, tally, and track every byte of data that is provided for free (through marketing incentive, third-party [free Facebook, free Spotify], upsell, or loyalty bonus) with a touchy billing system.       

There are different ways to handle this from a billing perspective. “One way is to un-rate the data so it is filtered out before coming into the billing system,” says Brent Maropis, CEO, H2O Overgroup. “Another is to rate as zero, and use it as trend research by run reports to have a historical view of the sponsored data usage.”

Billing Systems 4.0

I humbly propose that we have now entered the era of Billing 4.0. If we define traditional batch as billing 1.0, real-time billing was 2.0, convergent billing and charging was 3.0, and today's billing systems must evolve again to meet the ever-increasing demands of the digital revolution. Especially in the case of billing in new verticals and mobile payments, service providers face intense competition from new sources with deep pockets for payment processing/billing, such as Facebook and Google.

While it may never be sexy, billing has never been more important. The world moves at cloud speed, and back-end support must do the same. Who knows; someday, if they are built correctly, billing systems just might be transparent and flexible enough to garner an affirming nod or positive anecdote at a dinner party.


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