Dublin- and San Francisco-based startup boxPAY today announced the availability of new software development kits (SDKs) that allow Android and smart TV platform developers to use carrier billing to charge customers for recurring subscriptions and in-app purchases. Thus far, especially in smart TV, paying for content directly through consumer devices hasn’t been an easy or hassle-free process, and boxPAY co-founder Gavin McConnon thinks his company’s new products could change that considerably for all involved – content provider, TV and device manufacturer, service provider and consumer.
“We’ve got a beta version of an SDK for smart TV payments, and we’re very excited about it because we’re definitely the first to get into that area,” McConnon said in an interview. “We also have the convenience factor; if you’re on an Android handset inside an app, we’ve got a one-touch payment. We try to make it as easy as literally the user pressing the price point on the screen and the payment going off in the background.” For TV users, it’s a similar experience, according to McConnon; viewers enter their phone number to make payments, and are texted a simple pin that they enter with their remote to complete the transaction. It’s much easier than entering and re-entering credit card details.
Not only does it provide convenience, but carrier billing is also a great way to help apps monetize in areas where plenty of people don’t have access to a credit card, or don’t generally operate in a credit-based economy. That covers large swaths of Asia, Africa, and a lot of other developing countries and emerging markets. Smart TVs might not have that much penetration in those places, but Android is catching on in many of them, especially because it can be used on relatively low-cost devices that are affordable even without contract-based subsidies from carriers.
“There’s more Android activations than iOS activations in all of Asia, Latin and South America, Africa, and even western European places,” McConnon said. “iOS is a good platform, and it monetizes well because everyone’s got a credit card, but there are a lot of Android users out there who are difficult to monetize.”
Carrier billing seems like a good fit for both Android and smart TVs, especially since boxPAY already has plenty of carrier connections from its founding purpose of making it easy to pay for web apps and games via your cell phone bill. And the company is from the same co-founders behind Global Billing Solutions, which worked for many years as a provider of ringtones and other media for cellphones, all of which was charged through carrier billing. The company is now in talks with TV makers, too, to see if it makes sense to partner directly with manufacturers to increase the availability of its TV payments SDK when that eventually exits beta.
Those carriers also earn a percentage of transactions made using boxPAY, which McConnon says varies from around five to 15 percent depending on where in the world they’re located. It’s not the kind of mobile revenues they once enjoyed, but it’s also better than what they’re getting from mobile software marketplaces like Apple’s App Store. McConnon told BetaKit that carriers realize that and seem willing to lower their percentages even further to help grow their piece of the mobile content pie, which is good for boxPAY, which also earns a cut, and for developers, who also stand to earn more if those carrier cuts get smaller.