When it comes to mobile payments, consumers are more likely to proceed to checkout when a transaction is smoother and doesn't require the inputting of lots of numbers. With that in mind, Payvia recently added two features to its bill-to-carrier mobile payments platform, available to merchants through an API. ProgrammableWeb spoke about those changes and more with company CTO Alek Zdziarski at API World.
Payvia, based in Los Angeles, is finalizing talks with individual carriers to add the first feature, header enrichment. When a subscriber goes to access a website, a mobile phone sends out an HTTP request. Before that request reaches the merchant's website, it passes through the carrier's proxy where the carrier adds information to the HTTP header. This information authenticates a subscriber automatically so tapping in a phone number to complete a transaction becomes no longer necessary. This makes payments faster and a lot more convenient for the consumer.
The second feature, check eligibility, finds out whether whether a consumer is able to make a payment by phone or not before offering the option. For example, if a user has a prepay phone with insufficient funds, the bill-to-carrier option will not appear at checkout.
“Nothing is worse than when a consumer is ready to buy and makes an attempt to purchase only to find the transaction won’t go through,” said Zdziarski.
He went on to add that checkout flows are an inherent failing for mobile devices. The reason is simple: smartphones are tiny and people have big fingers. When a transaction is too cumbersome, a consumer simply loses interest. Direct carrier billing makes the process easier, explained Zdziarski.
“The carriers know who you are at all times by the fact that your mobile phone is on,” he said. “At the time of the transaction, we don’t need you to log on. We don’t need your name, pin or numbers. We just need you to opt in.”
Although used worldwide, carrier billing is particularly popular in emerging markets where fewer people have access to credit cards and many prepay for phone usage.
Currently, merchants use Payvia for selling virtual goods and online services only. Physical goods haven’t caught on yet. "Carriers are still wary because there are a number of taxation requirements,” said Zdziarsky. But that may soon change. “We expect in the next 12-15 months more physical goods will be sold,” he said adding that publications and parking meter payments are already in the pipeline.
In May, Payvia purchased Venice, CA based Mogreet, a company in the SMS, MMS space. Mogreet is now a key component of the Payvia payments API and allows marketers to do things like send out a coupon via MMS and drive an immediate transaction.
Does Payvia plan on acquiring any other companies in the near future? Zdziarsky hints that it is a possibility. “We are always interested and always looking,” he said.