What Role for Carrier Billing in Digital Ticketing?

POSTED BY Michael Greenwood


Digital Ticketing: Market Landscape

The ticketing landscape can be split into two areas, event ticketing, and travel ticketing. Both these areas of ticketing have undergone digitalisation. This is often attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which definitely accelerated the process, but it was well underway before this.
The event ticketing industry covers live shows, cultural events, entry to exhibitions and other similar ticketed events. This industry was undergoing increasing digitalisation before the pandemic, with websites that sold digital tickets for events, such as Ticketmaster, already widely used. Since the end of the pandemic, this trend has continued, with events taking advantage of the lower overhead of digital ticketing. Digital tickets are bought either in app or on a browser. A significant proportion of tickets is purchased on mobile devices, due to the convenience. There is also a trend of consumers leaving it later to book event tickets; this is a change from when consumers would make plans for an event months in advance. It is still the case that major events such as stadium shows, where demand outstrip supply, are sold out far in advanced, but most events are selling tickets up until gates open. This suits digital ticketing, as it allows the consumer to order, pay for and receive a digital ticket in no more than a couple minutes. Previously, the only way to sell tickets last minute was at the gates.
Digital ticketing has also changed the provision of transport. Weather public or private, transport companies have embraced digital ticketing. A driver of this is ticketing apps that work out the cheapest way of completing a journey, and allows the user to purchase the ticket, or tickets, needed to complete that journey. This allows consumers to save money, and allows transport companies to grow the number of users. This system relied on digital tickets as they were purchased from an app or website, not from the transport company. This service was particularly successful for train tickets, but equivalents are available for bus and air travel. Digital tickets were also popular for high-value travel tickets, as it reduced the risk of lost tickets. Access to the ticket was dependent on access to the account they were stored on, normally an email. Even if the user’s mobile device is lost, they would more than likely still have access to their account, and by extension the tickets.

Carrier Billing & Digital Ticketing

Carrier billing’s role in digital ticketing varies by region

In developed economies, many users have established payment methods integrated into their mobile device. The digitalisation of ticketing is increasing the use of mobile payments for both event tickets, and transport tickets, but this is not inherently going to lead to a significant growth in the carrier billing market. Carrier billing offers frictionless mobile payments that would be well suited to paying for regular small ticketing costs.
In Europe, there is the issue of a spending limit. These limits, $54 (€50) per transfer and $325 (€300) per billing month, make carrier billing limited in its ability to cover high-value spending. Most plane tickets exceed the transfer limit, equally many live concerts and sports tickets also cost more than this spend limit. This also presents issues in the EU for the use of carrier billing for MaaS solutions. The aim of MaaS is to have all the transactions for urban transport under one roof. This would be made up of many small payments, almost never effected by the one-off payment spend limit, but would add up to a significant cost over time. In cities with more expensive transport systems, using carrier billing to pay for everyday transport would leave verry little leftover spending with the monthly limit. Many users will choose to use an alternative payment method that does not have the spending limit.

Juniper Research’s View

Ticketing presents a significant opportunity for carrier billing vendors. The growth of mobile digital ticketing means that consumers will be looking to make payments for these tickets with a seamless mobile payment method, such as carrier billing.

Due to spending limits, EU-based vendors should look to focus its offering on low-value regular payments, such as parking or cinema tickets. For vendors outside of the EU, especially in developing countries where mobile payments are already popular, vendors should look to integrate their payment solution into emerging MaaS solutions. This does not only provide an excellent source of revenue, but also gives them access to a rich vein of high-value consumer data, which can help them improve their own offering and supply to other interested parties.
Carrier billing will not gain a strong position in digital ticketing markets where it is not already an established payment method. In developing markets, it has the potential to become a popular mobile payment method for ticketing, particularly travel. This use, characterised by smaller-value, regular payments, plays to carrier billings strength. The primary barrier to this is the presence of infrastructure on the transport network of these countries. In places such as Thailand and Kenya, this is already under way, but this is not the case across the board. If integrated with NFC (Near-field Communication), this would allow a truly seamless payment experience. There will be competition from digital wallets and banking apps, which can offer the same user experience. In many developing countries, the unbanked population is significant; limiting the reach of banking apps. Digital wallets are a meaningful competitor for carrier billing, and vendors should look to leverage existing relationships between MNOs and users to maximise the use of their service.

Related Reading

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