The agent model and its impact on direct carrier billing (DCB)

There’s something interesting happening in the world of direct carrier billing (DCB). And it could have a transformative impact on the scale and scope of this as-yet under-represented payment category.

The agent model and direct carrier billing

That “something” is called the agent model. It’s now being promoted by the big beasts in the DCB world, like Boku, as well as the feistier players, like Vienna-based mobile specialist DIMOCO Payments.

And it’s a way of breaking through one of the barriers that has traditionally constrained the growth of DCB payments.

European Union regulatory requirements have restricted the use of DCB to a narrow category of payments, namely digital goods, plus ticketing and parking.

They have also limited spend to a maximum of €50 per transaction and €300 per month. But, by using the agent model, it can be possible to extend DCB to non-digital goods and eliminate the tight spend limits.

The agent model enables mobile network operators (MNOs) to act as payment agents on behalf of licensed payment service providers, like DIMOCO Payments or Boku.

One example of how this works in practice is in Germany, where the country’s MNO community worked with DIMOCO Payments to create Zahl einfach per Handyrechnung – a new domestic payments brand that can be used for bike rental, EV charging, parking, public transport, and more.

Another interesting example comes from Poland, where DIMOCO Payments has worked with STS, the country’s leading online sports betting company, to enable people to use DCB to place bets on sports matches and tournaments.

What’s also interesting is that this model is taking root at the very time when European consumers are migrating at pace and at scale away from card-based payments and towards new digital alternatives.

In fact, Juniper Research predicts that between 2023 and 2028, card-based payments will fall from 71% to 57% of European e-commerce spend, which will bring yet more disruption to an already dynamic and fast-moving market.

This means that, at exactly the time when consumers are set to adopt a wider repertoire of digital payment methods, ambitious and forward-thinking players like DIMOCO Payments are determined to take direct carrier billing beyond the narrow niche it once occupied.

In other words, it’s an interesting development at a fascinating time in the evolution of European payments.


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