Skype is set to introduce direct operator billing in key markets

Internet telephony darling and over-the-top success, Skype, stepped up its threat to operators with the introduction of direct operator billing this week.

The VoIP service provider, now owned by Microsoft, has been a popular platform for users seeking free or low-cost alternatives to operators’ cellular voice services. While voice revenues continue to decline for operators, particularly in mature markets, Skype’s leveraging of another aspect of carrier-owned infrastructure could add further pressure.

Customers in key global markets will be able to purchase Skype Credits through both desktop and mobile web browsers, from October. Skype also plans to facilitate in-app credit purchases in the future.

“Delivering a strong user-experience has been at the heart of Skype’s adoption by millions of users globally, and we want to extend this philosophy to the payment options we provide,” said Neil Ward, GM for business operations in Microsoft’s Skype division. “We expect ease of payment to attract new users, while existing users will become more profitable customers as they increase their spend with us.”

However, Morten Brøgger, CEO of Mach – the direct operator billing vendor selected by Skype, argued that the service does not pose a threat to operators, but an opportunity. He claimed that the solution enables operators to enter the e-commerce value chain, and start to win market share from the major credit card brands and companies.

“Being able to play in this value chain will be critical to raising operator revenues in the future and it’s fantastic to have a high-profile merchant like Skype on board,” said Brøgger.

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