DOCOMO Digital study reveals that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of carrier billing

More than half of merchants consider working with a Direct Carrier Billing Specialist in 2021
15 December, London

A new study commissioned and sponsored by DOCOMO Digital, a global leader in direct carrier billing and alternative payments, reveals that the Covid-19 pandemic expedited the shift to carrier billing across global markets, with the majority of mobile operators surveyed identifying significant market opportunities to expand into new areas, some of which are not served by traditional payment methods. The study finds that approximately half of the respondents have or plan to implement the Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) payment method in 2021. 

The research, ‘Making the case for carrier billing’, is based on a survey of leading mobile carriers conducted by the GSMA’s Mobile World Live. The 115 respondents included business leaders from leading carriers and merchants in the digital health, education, and SaaS verticals. 

A significant 58% of merchants will consider working with direct carrier billing specialists in 2021. Key drivers for this move are that merchants are embracing new forms of digital content along with the proliferation of new platforms in the market, resulting in a surge in the usage of DCB. By partnering with a DCB specialist, merchants can better manage their payment settlements at scale while providing a seamless and native user experience. 

The study highlights that merchants believe there are several market opportunities for wallets or carrier billing for new offerings such as scooters, bike rentals, food delivery and parking services. The key benefits of introducing DCB services includes enhanced revenue, providing subscribers with payment flexibility, simplifying the onboarding of new merchants and a cost-effective mobile payment integration with App stores.

Research highlights
  • 40% of merchants experienced a positive outcome on their billing business due to the Covid-19 crisis 
  • 58% of merchants consider working with a Direct Carrier Billing Specialist in 2021
  • 50% of merchants have launched DCB or plan to in 2021
  • 62% indicated they are willing to invest in co-marketing efforts and bundles with an operator partner, depending on the campaign
  • 37.5% expect merchants to invest in co-marketing efforts and bundles for all or most campaigns
  • Two-thirds of merchants are considering web-based payment APIs or direct DCB connections with multiple merchants beyond app stores
  • The top-three worries holding merchants back from moving to DCB are security, the perception of a low-margin opportunity and bad debt

“The pandemic accelerated carrier billing transaction volumes beyond even the aggressive prediction made by Omdia (previously Ovum) earlier in the year, forecasting 10 per cent annual growth from $49 billion in 2019 to $79 billion in 2024. Consumers all over the world increased their engagement with, and purchase of, digital goods online using Direct Carrier Billing as a payment method. The speed and convenience of being able to collect payment through DCB is a major attraction for operators’ merchant partners, as it reduces friction in the customer journey that may lead to transaction abandonment. With DOCOMO Digital’s offering, merchants can access business intelligence, bad debt management, subscription analytics, CRM capabilities, and various alternative payment methods such as carrier billing and e-wallets, by seamlessly integrating our payments’ platform with their infrastructure.”

Raising awareness of Direct Carrier Billing is still a work in progress. Kriegel is surprised by the number of global merchants that are not yet aware of the benefits of DCB, “so there is plenty still to be done there.” Educating consumers on how DCB works and the benefits it provides compared with alternative payment methods is also crucial to expanding the entire ecosystem.

Jonathan Kriegel

DOCOMO Digital’s CEO

“The survey found as merchants embrace new forms of digital content and new platforms emerge, operators are keen to establish their role as payments providers. They understand the digital ecosystem is going to evolve with or without them, and DCB ensures they have a strong partnership role in that ecosystem.”

Waring noted a third of those surveyed want a full partnership with a DCB specialist, with 27 per cent considering payments coupled with co-marketing efforts. “Many are certainly looking for support: more than a third expect merchants to invest in co-marketing efforts and bundles for all or most campaigns.”

Joseph Waring

Asia Editor at Mobile World Live and the author of the report

About GSMA Mobile World Live

Produced by the mobile industry for the mobile industry, Mobile World Live is the leading multimedia resource that keeps mobile professionals on top of the news and issues shaping the market. It offers daily breaking news from around the globe. Exclusive video interviews with business leaders and event reports provide comprehensive insight into the latest developments and key issues. All enhanced by incisive analysis from our team of expert commentators. Our responsive website design ensures the best reading experience on any device so readers can keep up-to-date wherever they are. We also publish five regular eNewsletters to keep the mobile industry up-to-speed: The Mobile World Live Daily, plus weekly newsletters on Mobile Apps, Asia, Mobile Devices and Mobile Money. What’s more, Mobile World Live produces webinars, the Show Daily publications for all GSMA events and Mobile World Live TV – the award-winning broadcast service of Mobile World Congress and exclusive home to all GSMA event keynote presentations. Find out more

About DOCOMO Digital

DOCOMO Digital is the international payments business of NTT DOCOMO. We partner with carriers, merchants, OTT services, app stores and payment providers in both developed and emerging markets around the world. We solve the challenges of customer acquisition and retention, regulation, and complexity for our partners with alternative payment methods such as direct carrier billing and digital wallets. With teams based in fifteen countries, we enable our partners to grow their digital services revenues while enhancing the customer experience for their users. Our robust managed services platform and coverage across carriers and the most locally relevant payment methods enable faster time-to-market, especially for streaming, gaming, eCommerce, and productivity application providers. For more information, visit or find us on LinkedIn.

Media Contact
DOCOMO Digital

Rahul Mudgal

+65 978 17160

[email protected]