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May 17, 2013

Telefonica, Samsung Deal as a area Carrier Billing

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Telefonica, better known under its brand names of O2 (UK, Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Movistar (Spain and Latin America) have announced today a deal with Samsung, the world’s largest Mobile maker. It will allow Telefonica subscribers with Samsung mobiles to use the Samsung Hub and Samsung Apps portals on Samsung smartphones to buy apps, music, videos, books, games and more and charge them directly to their phone bills. This deal will be implemented in phases, starting first with a roll-out with Telefonica’s subsidiary in Germany “in the coming months.”

telefonica-o2The agreement, which will use Telefonica’s BlueVia payment APIs, is a significant one for Telefonica. So far it has inked deals with app portal operators, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and RIM, and with billing providers like Bango; this effectively closes the loop for it by securing a deal with the world’s largest handset maker, although a recent deal to help the carrier finance the procurement and distribution of BlackBerry devices could point to Telefonica gearing up for a similar deal with that handset maker, too.TelefonicaL_Movi_ogo

In addition to Bango, Telefonica also works with BOKU, where it led a $35 million investment last year. It’s not clear how this deal with Samsung will play out between these two rival billing providers. In the past Telefonica has been vague on the subject, saying that it will work one or the other depending on the situation.

The carrier framework can be used not only for consumers who take monthly plans, but also for prepaid accounts, with each purchase deducted from there, as already happens with phone minutes, data bytes and SMS messages. This is an area where Spain’s Telefonica, which has more users in emerging markets in Latin America than it does in any single market in Europe, can hope to gain a foothold with its carrier billing offering, even if it has (so far) missed the boat in more developed markets.

Wayne Thorsen, vice president of Global Partnerships at Telefónica Digital, said in a statement:

“We strongly believe that carrier billing has the potential to drive the monetisation of digital content, partnerships like this allow us to harness the power of the billing relationships we have with our customers to make it easier for them to consume content on their tablets and mobile devices.”

For Samsung, meanwhile, it gives the company the ability to promote its own content portals as easy to use — one way of driving more users there instead of to Google’s services. As Samsung tries to further differentiate itself from the other OEMs using Android, and Google itself, little things like this could help it along the way.

Samsung_Large_LOGOLee Epting, VP of Media Solutions Centre Europe for Samsung Electronics Europe, said in a statement:

“Samsung is committed to ensuring that our customers have choice and convenience when purchasing content on our devices, our partnership with Telefónica Digital allows us to deliver yet another easy and convenient purchasing experience to our Samsung Hub and Samsung Apps customers.”

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini