Voice over IP service Skype
has started to support direct carrier billing for Skype Credit in Russia, with the United States and Canada set to follow. The new mobile payments option will allow Skype users to purchase Skype Credit directly from the mobile device through their smartphone's browser, with the charge being applied to their account.
The transaction processing is being provided to Russian carriers by Mach
, a firm specializing in mobile payments. In the US, Mach already provides payment processing through it's partnership with payvia to Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and Telus. While all the back-end technology is in place for such a system to go ahead in the US, it is down to the individual carriers to offer the option to purchase Skype credit to their customers, something that may be a challenge if phone networks feel threatened by the competition Skype poses to their call revenues.
Microsoft has been spending a considerable amount of time working out how to increase revenues from Skype. Aside from offering call subscriptions and taking direct payments to top-up credit, the service has begun offering in-store and online gift cards in the US
and the UK
, opening up the service to those without a credit card for payments.