Valista moves to fix unsolicited payments issue

8 Sep 2006

Irish digital commerce firm Valista has developed a technology that enables mobile operators and content providers to eradicate the problem of unsolicited charging for mobile content such as ringtones via premium SMS.

The problems caused by premium SMS-based charging for unsolicited content became a contentious issue across Europe over the past year as people found themselves being billed for opening up a premium SMS message.

The problem became so great that in the UK mobile operators considered ditching premium SMS services altogether as customers often changed operator as a result of losing credit through premium SMS.

Dublin-based Valista has developed a Managed Payments Gateway Service that enables operators to ensure that the consumer is aware of exactly what they are paying for when buying content from a third party, or off-portal.

“In a direct to bill model, operators need additional infrastructure such as a payments gateway,” said Raomal Perera, CEO of Valista. “Valista can manage on their behalf to complement their existing billing systems allowing external access by aggregators and merchants through a robust payments-oriented interface while at the same time providing protection for both the operator and their subscribers through spending controls and greater customer visibility of what’s being charged to their bill.

“A second key element is comprehensive revenue-settlement capabilities to ensure the correct settlement for both the initial payments and also subsequent post-payment events, such as refunds and chargebacks,” Perera said.

Until recently, most billing for content has been done via premium SMS. However, as successful as it has been, premium SMS has limitations. It does not provide a reliable transactional mechanism for authorising and capturing payment requests and this lack of transactional reliability has given rise to a significant amount of revenue leakage. Secondly, the content itself has evolved and is no longer SMS-based.

Valista’s Managed Payments Gateway Service acts as a bridge between external merchants and the internal operator’s billing infrastructure.

It is a hosted model run as a managed service with European and US-based secure data centres providing 24x7access to support personnel. The service provides support for single and recurring charges such as subscription services and can enable operators to easily restrict access based on the user’s profile, manage subscription licences enabling recurring charge management, control user opt-in/out and provide notifications.

By John Kennedy