Telefonica, one of the largest telcos in Europe, announced Telenor (Norwegian-based carrier) as its first carrier partner for the BlueVia API platform. The first BlueVia API available to developers is billing services. In-app billing services remove the need for marketplaces like the Apple's app store or iTunes for mobile app purchases. Instead, consumers' purchases are added to their phone bills. Although Telefonica chose billing as its first service to offer its carrier partners, Jose Valles (Head of BlueVia) commented on the long term strategy:
"From the beginning, BlueVia’s aim has been to gather scale and experiment fast on API business, not sticking to Telefónica’s footprint but opening our vision to a pure global ecosystem....Telenor is leading the industry embracing this vision. We are glad to work with them, initially in mobile payments, but also exploring other innovative APIs."
Billing service gives carriers and telcos a portion of the app purchases revenue stream that flows over their networks. Research suggests that conversion rates increase more than 30% when a carrier adds the purchase to a phone bill as opposed to a 3rd party billing service. Additionally, Telefonica hopes to increase interaction with its more than 300 million customers and Telenor's 100+ millioin customers.
BlueVia uses REST protocol and returns requests in an XML or JSON data format. The key to BlueVia's API is in-app billing, as developers can incorporate their apps directly into the carrier's billing system and consumers can simplify their payment process by eliminating the need to buy apps outside of their phone bills.
Carriers are continually seeking methods to increase revenue in a world where voice and data prices continue to fall. Although consumers are currently familiar and comfortable with purchasing apps through a platform other than their carrier, carriers could change this behavior and participate in the app revenue stream that continues to explode across the globe. Should the billing service API increase revenues like Telefonica expects, look for additional APIs soon.