Apple announces European Apple Pay expansion, carrier billing trials

Apple is exploring alternative payment options in the wake of the increasing insecurity of online banking and credit card systems.

The vendor is now expanding Apple Pay in partnership with American Express to subscribers in to Australia and Canada in 2015. In 2016, according to Apple, the service will be extended to Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong next year in 2016. Apple said it is committed to expanding the mobile payments feature in the future and in recent earnings reports Apple Pay was revealed to be experiencing double-digit growth of transactions each month.

Meanwhile, Apple is working with O2/Telefonica in Germany as it explores the concept of carrier billing. Customers will initially be able to use carrier billing to buy items in iTunes, rather than risk putting their credit card and banking details online. Purchases from Apple Music, iTunes, the App Store and iBooks are charged directly to the telco subscriber’s phone bill or, if the subscriber is not on a contract, debited from their prepaid account.

The mobile operator says the service will be available to all German subscribers by November. Carrier billing could be a massive opportunity for telcos in the wake of recent database hacks. Telefonica subsidiary O2 is known to be working with two carrier billing service providers, Bango and Boku. To date, neither of the billing service providers has been invited to integrate with the Apple services, despite relationships with other major app stores. According to reports Telefonica has been working on carrier billing for Android and other devices.

Germany could be a test market for early carrier billing services for content providers, according to analyst sources, since Amazon first tested its first integration, with Bango and O2, in Germany in September 2014.

Billing service provider Bango works with Telefonica across its 340 million user footprint.

According to a report from BI Intelligence carrier billing is being updated for the mobile app age and most of its revenue now comes from developed markets like North America and Europe.

The report estimates that carrier billing powers $3 billion in mobile transactions which is 12% of the global market for mobile digital content. As carriers struggle to maintain revenue, says the report, carrier billing offers new revenue streams where mobile operators can charge fees between 25% and 40% of the total cost of purchased goods.

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