Skip to main content

MEF Director of Programmes James Williams shares an overview of the recent webinar with Members of the Direct Carrier Billing for Growth Working Group – part of the Enterprise Communications ecosystem, the group focusses on all things DCB and solving the issues facing the sector, including fraud and use cases. The Members, including  Sam Media, Evina, Digital Virgo, Aegis Mobile, Empello and BT discuss the future of DCB and how it is evolving globally.

The Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) has officially been around for 21 years now. Time sure does fly and many of the MEF team are looking forward to raising a glass to toast this success with both members and their guests from far and wide at MWC 2022 in Barcelona in little more than three weeks’ time.

Watch the webinar in full – Download the slides

MEF members’ activities traverse six diverse ecosystems and one which has a very active and close-knit working group is part of Payments. I am of course talking ‘Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) for Growth’ here. DCB is also sometimes known as ‘charge to bill’ or ‘charge to mobile’. Paying for services and (where regulations allow) physical goods too by adding the charges to your mobile phone bill.

The group’s mission was refined yet further in our first meeting of 2022 to the simple “Promote Adoption of DCB As a Trusted Payment Method”. For those of you already in the know, I am sure you will agree this covers off very neatly the two major MEF food groups – market development, growth, and consumer trust. These are ultimately the two things that MEF is all about and I can tell you that since I have had the privilege of taking over the running of the DCB related working group just over a year ago, these are both things members deliver in spades…

Prior to my arrival at MEF, members had collaborated and put together a truly comprehensive whitepaper entitled ‘Combatting Fraud in Mobile Content’. One thing I have learnt since I joined is that no matter how much progress one THINKS one has made in cybersecurity and consumer protection, bad actors do not stop and (although it pains me to write this, it is true…) are some of the most innovative people out there. The threat vectors change constantly and nobody can rest easy.

Interaction, Insight and Impact are integral to what MEF does and all around the world, MEF is particularly well known for its great insight. Think the in-depth industry reports that come out so regularly, all of which members get full access to. Education is constantly there and nothing is assumed. Questioning is actively encouraged and at the hear of it all is educating the wider Mobile ecosystem about the myriad of benefits all the services out there can bring – as long as of course the consumer is protected as best as we possibly can. To this end, a good chunk of the work carried out by the DCB For Growth working group revolved around bringing the great content of the ‘Combatting Fraud in Mobile Content’ paper to an even wider audience.

Seven member companies sprung into action and created a series of both visual and written offerings – think short, punchy videos looking at the key issues, great webinar type material really drilling down into the detail and of course infographics and shorter papers, all helping to bring the whitepaper contents even more vividly to life.

The culmination of this work as a live webinar drawing together many of those who had worked exhaustively to bring understanding of DCB to a new audience which I had the privilege of moderating. The clock was set at 60 minutes but let’s just say that we could have used 120 minutes and done those two hours justice! There was so much to say about the topic of DCB and the speakers on the day were:

As members of the DCB for Growth working group, we can say that a great job is done in bringing together different key players in the industry – to share best practices, identify trends and above all to achieve a common goal: position DCB as a globally trusted payment method.

  • Anzelle Robertson, Business Development Manager for Africa, Sam Media
  • David Lotfi, CEO & Founder, Evina
  • Ignacio Molto, Regulation & Payment Process Director, Digital Virgo
  • John Bruner, President & CEO, Aegis Mobile
  • Louise Ford, Managing Director, Empello
  • Peter Garside, Head of Charge to Bill, BT

But you are all not hear to read what I have to say but what the REAL experts working at the heart of the industry have to say about the subject so let’s start with Anzelle providing a distinctly African flavour:

“In unbanked markets, especially throughout Africa, the importance of financial- and economic inclusion cannot be understated. Whilst telco-backed mobile wallets have done a great deal to promote access to digital goods and services, there’s still a major opportunity for DCB. Micro payments billed seamlessly allow millions of consumers to enjoy digital entertainment- and educational services on demand, without getting caught up in complicated subscriptions or payment plans. Sam Media works with network operators and payment gateways to unlock this potential. Being a part of the DCB for Growth Working Group gives us a platform to show how the combination of exciting digital products and fit-for-purpose payment options can drive profitable and sustainable projects in the region”

Evina come in very fittingly with “We are so convinced that DCB has a great future, that we have invested more energy and more money than any other cybersecurity company before in it. As everybody knows now, DCB is a highly efficient payment method that provides a frictionless experience during the purchase process. But what not everybody realizes yet, is that telecommunications operators that make this technology available have all that is needed to become major players in the huge payment market. That’s because they have access to what every fintech company dreams of having: vast customer bases, extensive distribution network covering all territories and maybe most importantly, a registration-free access. The very first thing we do when we buy a smartphone is to connect it to our operator network. From that moment on you are able to pay. This is the magic of direct carrier billing.

Looking ahead, two major battles for the coming years will be the deployment of one-click payment, which is the end-game of DCB, and what it is meant to be, and the protection of an ever-growing number of consumers (the market will double between 2020 and 2025). Without that protection, one-click payment will not be deployable. DCB fraud must be combated if this technology is to remain attractive and if its growth is to be sustainable. Let’s make DCB one of the major payment methods of the 21st century.”

I could not agree more Evina! And now our member Digital Virgo:

“As members of the DCB for Growth working group, we can say that a great job is done in bringing together different key players in the industry – to share best practices, identify trends and above all to achieve a common goal: position DCB as a globally trusted payment method.

Key things that need to be done to really drive adoption of DCB as a payment method is to continue to work together to position customer satisfaction at the heart of mobile payment success. It has to be a priority for the whole industry and is at the heart of the challenges facing the main players in the alternative payment method sectors, especially mobile payments. Regulation, security, transparency, customer service, all have the common goal of improving customer satisfaction.

But undoubtedly the most important thing, in addition to working together to maintain a sustainable carrier billing ecosystem, is to globally promote carrier billing. So far, we have worked to improve the business, to ensure security and now it is time to tell the story of the DCB opportunity potential – that is our main mission right now.”

Empello are a recent joining member of MEF and whilst they missed out on what the MEF working group did through 2021 have a far-reaching presence across the industry and their Managing Director Louise Ford had the following to say:

“We must remember as an industry that we are competing against other payment providers for the growing mobile commerce market. If DCB billing is competitive and meets consumer and merchant expectations, then we will continue to see healthy growth. If it is not, then both consumers and merchants will vote with their feet and switch to better and more competitive payment methods for their mobile transactions. As such, as an industry we must provide an excellent, easy and delightful customer journey throughout the entire customer lifecycle for consumers. And for merchants we must ensure that DCB enables the generation of sufficient return on investment to warrant its use either over, or in conjunction with other payment methods.”

Aegis Mobile from the USA delivered some great North American insights and their President and CEO John Bruner neatly summarized the whole conversation with this: “DCB can offer tremendous value, efficiency and trust if executed correctly.  Consumers are underwritten and known by the carriers and in effect registered users of DCB. If the Merchants and partners bringing goods and digital media to the market are also authenticated and validated as trusted entities, a perfect pairing emerges to the benefit of all players.”

Thanks to all our speakers for their time and wisdom and I look forward to sharing another blog post with you following another live webinar I moderate. They come thick and fast so keep your eye out for the next one! After all, Interaction providing great Insight and delivering real Impact is EXACTLY what MEF is about!

And finally, if you want to find out more about all the work MEF does, what the DCB group get up to and what great benefits MEF membership can bring your business (whatever it is you do) then do not hesitate to email me directly at!

James Williams

Director of Programmes, MEF