Mobile data and messaging company Acision has just rolled out an interesting new billing mechanism with SETAR, Aruba’s national telecoms provider. Can’t decide between pre-pay or post-pay on your mobile account? Be both! SETAR consumers can now access a hybrid plan that combines elements from both camps.
What’s the story?
We’ve reported quite a lot on the work of Acision here at GoMo – but it’s usually about data or messaging platforms. This is the first time we’ve reported on their charging platform. Called the Acision Charging Engine, it allows a post-paid bill to be “augmented” by a pre-pay option.
How does it work?
The usual method for bill pay accounts is that the user pays an agreed amount to the operator every month, in return for a set amount of minutes, texts and (sometimes) data. If they go over that limit, the operator begins to charge them for the excessive use – usually per minute, text or MB. These “overage” fees tend to be fairly harsh. In the vast majority of cases, you really want to stay within the limits of your contract, otherwise you’re going to get a hell of a bill at the end of the month.
It’s this kind of bill shock that SETAR wants to avoid. Using the Acision Charging Engine, when the post-paid user reaches their monthly limit, they are notified – and then offered the option to buy additional charges through pre-pay.
What we think?
Honestly, I think this a fantastically simple and effective move. There are great advantages to be gained through this hybridisation – both for the consumer, and for the operator.
It costs less, and it’s more transparent. In most cases, you never know if you’ve gone over your monthly limit until the bill comes in at the end of the month. And by that time it’s too late, and the operator gets a big pay out from you. This way, you are notified as soon as you hit your limit – and not only that, you can then buy additional minutes at pre-pay rates, rather than the harsh rates usually put in place. So for a consumer who wants to keep costs down, they can buy a teeny-tiny bill-pay account, and top it up if they want to.
This gives the operator much greater flexibility in offering monthly plans. Far smaller bill contracts become possible, because those customers get the option of topping them up as they go. However, more interestingly, it gives the operator a much better platform from which to offer better phones and better services to customers who only want to pay small amounts. Because there’s a monthly payment involved now, an operator could sell someone a subsidised smartphone with a very reasonable monthly data plan. Then the actual voice and SMS payments could be handled through pre-pay.