Google and Airtel in talks to bring 'carrier billing' option to Android users

When it comes to mobile payments, India is still at a nascent stage. This could be one of the reasons why Google is planning to tie-up with service provider Airtel to allow customers to pay for in-app purchases, e-books and other such services.


People related to the matter have told The Economic Times that Google is in talks with Airtel to allow its customers to pay for digital items as well as in-app purchases through the service provider. This means you'll be billed for the apps you purchase from the Play store in your monthly phone bill. It should be noted that Google already has carrier-billing options in 26 countries including the US, UK and Singapore.


The report further adds that the two companies are trying to come to a consensus on revenue sharing. So, the big announcement will come only when both settle over revenue sharing. Sources say that Google is asking for as much as 90 percent of the revenues, which may possibly be the reason for delay.


The report further points out that traditionally, operators have been taking over 50 percent of the revenues, but off late they have been under pressure to pay more to publishers/developers.
Users now pay for Google services using their credit or debit cards. However, the new tie-up will ensure that the numerous users who do not use credit cards or are afraid to key in banking details online can also purchase its products.


Google can then sell its digital products to people, sans the need for them to key in bank details. Airtel reportedly has about 40 million data subscribers in India, and 12.5 million of them are on 3G. So, it’s a win-win situation for both. Moreover, Google's digital goods and apps are estimated to bring more than $5 billion in revenue by 2017 across the world.


Now, this isn’t the first time both companies have teamed up. Airtel and Google have already partnered for the Android One lineup in India. Airtel is giving away free Android updates up to 100MB per month and app downloads up to 200MB per month for six months. This means a major chunk of essential data download costs gets covered by switching to an Android One device with Airtel as the carrier.

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