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CARRIER BILLING: STREAMLINING MOBILE PAYMENTS AROUND THE WORLD

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CARRIER BILLING: STREAMLINING MOBILE PAYMENTS AROUND THE WORLD

Stefan Kostic, CEO,Centili

What’s next for mobile payments? It’s a technology that’s already improving lives for consumers the world over, creating visions of a ‘cashless society’ going forward. Although it’s unlikely that this technology will ever fully replace physical currency, it’s certainly causing major disruption across the globe and has already transformed the way consumers pay for goods and services.

Yet there’s no single uniform approach to introducing mobile payments technology. In fact, when we look closely at how m-payments are impacting consumers, it becomes apparent that this is an umbrella term for an incredibly diverse range of platforms and services, each different from the one before and designed to meet a unique set of needs in a particular market.And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s in emerging markets where this trend is particularly apparent and where the most innovation in payments technology and user experience is happening.

The current state of the market

World Bank estimates that in some developing countries fewer than 10 per cent of the population have access to what we’d define as financial services, and 20% of bank accounts sit dormant. For these markets, in particular, digital payments technology are acting as a way of meeting the growing demands for alternatives to physical currency that can’t be accommodated by existing methods.

High demand for mobile payments is emerging in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Here, payment methods such as debit and credit cards do not have the same widespread penetration that they do in the western world. Alternative payment methods have therefore been required, and eCommerce has also been a key factor behind this demand. Alongside increased smartphone usage, it’s fuelled the further growth of a particular mobile payments technology that is becoming more and more popular–Carrier Billing.

Growing demand for mobile payments

Carrier Billing (CB) charges the purchase amount of goods or services directly to a mobile subscriber’s bill, eliminating the need for a bank account or credit card. It also simplifies the entire process through a one-click payment flow. The benefit is that it makes it incredibly simple and convenient for consumers, especially when it comes to in-app purchases.

CB has come a long way since it was first introduced. The technology has evolved rapidly in recent years to now support desktop and mobile devices anywhere on the planet. It’s quick and straightforward to use, and doesn’t require a bank account. So it’s easy to see why it has proven so popular around the world – and India is prime example.

Over 43% of bank accounts lie dormant in the region. Yet India is one of the largest mobile markets in the world with more than a billion connections, 630 million of which have access to Carrier Billing. Online spending is currently over $1 billion and growing at 31% annually, and a very high click-through rate on mobile advertising of over 12% presents a fertile ground for Carrier Billing uptake.

The challenge here, particularly for app developers, is how to make purchasing on mobile easy enough to attract people to buy their app and purchase in-app content. Carrier Billing can address this problem. In fact, businesses running freemium models that integrate Carrier Billing into their offerings have seen much higher conversion rates as a result, rising by up to 30%.

The important takeaway is that CB is quick to use and it provides a seamless user experience for the end user – something which is especially important for app users and online payments. This convenience and the ability to implement CB into a wide range of business segments, including gaming, social networks and events ticketing, allows businesses to reach and monetise users across the globe. Not only this, but CB can be easily integrated on all platforms, whether it’s desktop, mobile or on an application for both one time and recurring payments.

A win for all involved

Similar to the fact that digital payments will never truly illuminate the need for cash, Carrier Billing will never fully replace other mobile payment methods but it’s not designed to. This technology fills the gaps where other methods can’t, or have failed, to provide an easy user experience in order to drive conversion rate.

The benefits CB provides to all parties involved, including developers, merchants, and consumers, are well documented and too good to ignore in many emerging markets. CB offers merchants flexibility and increased average spending rates, along with the growing popularity it has with consumers in these markets.  For consumers, it’s one of the most accessible forms of payment,while being safe and easy to use.

So what does the future hold for CB?We’ve seen video and music streaming services as one example where users are adopting CB as a payment method of choice. In the near future, we expect that this will also ring true for more traditional services such as insurance and ticketing. One thing’s for sure though, with the appetite for mobile payments increasing across all markets, and as more and more consumers and merchants particularly in emerging markets accept and understand it as a method of payment, CB will only continue to thrive.

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Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart

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Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart 1

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Tuesday, underpinned by the likely easing of COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, positive economic forecasts and lower output as U.S. supplies were slow to return after a deep freeze in Texas shut down crude production.

Brent crude was up 36 cents, or 0.5%, at $65.60 a barrel by 1212 GMT, and U.S. crude rose 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $62.09 a barrel.

Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier in the session.

“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said optimistic oil price forecasts issued by leading U.S. brokers had also contributed to the latest upswing in prices.

Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.

Morgan Stanley expects Brent crude to climb to $70 in the third quarter.

“New COVID-19 cases are falling fast globally, mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve, and in non-OECD countries, refineries are already running as hard as before COVID-19,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.

Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.

Disruptions in Texas caused by last week’s winter storm also supported oil prices. Some U.S. shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.

Stockpiles of U.S. crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.

A weaker dollar also provided some support to oil as crude prices tend to move inversely to the U.S. currency.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; editing by David Evans and John Stonestreet)

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UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says

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UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s trade deal with Japan settled the nerves of a lot of Japanese businesses in the United Kingdom and gives them confidence about their future prospects there, a senior Honda executive said on Tuesday.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has since the 1980s made the United Kingdom its favoured European destination for investment, with the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Honda using the country as a launchpad into Europe.

But Britain’s shock 2016 decision to leave the European Union had prompted Japan to express unusually strong public concerns. Their companies and investors warned that a disorderly exit from the EU would force them to rethink their four-decade bet on Britain.

“We welcome very much the Japanese trade agreement which as a Japanese businesses was very welcomed,” Ian Howells, senior vice president at Honda Motor Europe, told a parliamentary committee.

“On the point around confidence, that certainly amongst my peers in Japanese companies was very much welcomed, and probably settled a lot of nerves in terms of their trading prospects in the UK going forward.”

Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement in October, marking Britain’s first big post-Brexit deal on trade. It has also made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Japan is also a member.

(Reporting by Kate Holton)

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UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says

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UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales fell in the year to February as stores cut jobs at a rapid rate, with only supermarkets reporting any growth during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Confederation of British Industry’s gauge of retail sales stood at -45, up only slightly from January’s eight-month low of -50. The measure points to falling sales and is below the consensus forecast of -38 in a Reuters poll of economists.

Retailers’ expectations for March – when non-essential shops will remain closed to the public as part of lockdown measures – fell to -62, the lowest since the series began in 1983.

In another sign of a changing consumer habits during lockdown, the survey’s gauge of internet retail sales hit a new record high.

“With lockdown measures still in place, trading conditions remain extremely difficult for retailers,” said Ben Jones, principal economist at the CBI.

“Record growth in internet shopping suggests that retailers’ investments in on-line platforms and click-and-collect services may be paying off, but the re-opening of the sector can’t come soon enough to protect jobs and breathe life back into the sector.”

Job losses among retailers accelerated according to a quarterly question in the survey. For the distribution sector as a whole, which includes wholesalers and car dealers, employment fell at a record rate, the CBI survey showed.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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