When it comes to billing a user on mobile carrier, even companies like Facebook face challenges. Current billing systems use an IP based billing method, which isn’t real time enough and causes a lot of customers to drop off. JunoTele, a Bangalore based startup, has come up with platform which makes carrier billing for microtransactions near real time and solves this problem.
This is how it works currently:
Say a user wants to download an app. The request is sent to an IP hub which is connected to various telecom operators. The hub checks with the operator if the user has enough money on his account and allows the download. The hub deals with millions of users and at the end of each cycle, money is paid out to each network based on the logs maintained by the operator and the hub. Such hubs are also used to bill for SMS, MMS, Roaming and other services.
But there is a problem. The current technology allows only one time billing or a subscription based billing as it is not fast enough for real time carrier billing or billing for on-demand services based on duration.
This is a problem which JunoTele has managed to solve. “IP based charging wasn’t good enough for volume or duration based charging,” says B Sekhar Rao, the founder of JunoTele.
For instance, if a consultant wants to charge for his services on the phone or the operator wants to charge people for videos based on the time for which it has been watched, it isn’t possible. This forced operators to adopt a subscription based model rather than the volume of the services.
“For me, real time meant being able to charge while the thing was live,” says Rao. With Juno Tele’s platform which is a combination of hardware and software, anything which is now subscription based, can be moved to an on demand model.
The solutions enables merchants, content providers, over the top players and operators to bill the users in real time. Making it especially useful for services like music and video streaming, voice sms & such.
The Juno Platform sits in between the switch and the Intelligent network in the telecom back end and becomes a hub (like the IP based hubs but more real time in nature) which connects with the operator on one end and service providers on the other side.
“This is the fastest possible billing service. It takes only 500 ms and is as good as real time,” said Rao, who has applied for a patent for the technology.
On the back end, the operators will simply have to configure a number to work with the JunoTele platform. The traditional methods take about 6-9 months to integrate with the operators. “We can configure the platform in 4 weeks time,” he said.
Currently, the company offers a service to operators which helps them improve their revenues from voice services. The startups technology can be used to bill users for voice sms, instant call completion and emergency top ups.
The company is now looking to bring Internet companies on board. Most internet companies currently work on advertisements or subscriptions. “We can offer them on demand billing which is a much more attractive proposition for the end user,” said Rao, who used to head the Indian operations of Multinational Automated Clearing House (Mach), a company in the business of clearing and settlement for nearly 600 mobile operators globally. He quit the company in 2009 to start JunoTele.