The No Show of the Year for 2013 – Vodafone not opening up its API to developers after an announcement in April – is the first big telco move of 2014. The telecom operator has finally, finally, finally launched its “Vodafone Developer Platform”, which allows local and international developers to offer operator billing that will allow developers to charge customers for content on mobile, as well as customize services according to subscriber profile, location, and also use the Vodafone messaging API. A brief overview of billing terms, API, revenue shares and penalties:
2. OneAPI: Vodafone is using the GSM Association supported OneAPI (details), which allows application developers to exploit mobile network capabilities such as messaging, authentication, payments and location-finding across global telecom operators. If you develop for the OneAPI, you can (theoretically) deploy your app with T-Mobile, Orange, Rogers, Vodafone (globally), AT&T, Bell, Telus.. The GSMA also has the OneAPI Exchange (pdf), for cross-operator capability. According to the GSMA, as of November 2013, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, and Vodafone were a part of the OneAPI exchange.
3. Revenue Shares: According to agreements available on the developer website, Vodafone has two levels of partners for this platform – aggregators and non-aggregators. Aggregators get paid nothing if revenues are up to Rs 10 lakh; between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 crores, they get 60% of the net revenues (after taxes have been deducted), and beyond Rs 50 crores, they get 70% of net revenues. Non-aggregators have it easier: they get paid nothing up to Rs 1 lakh; between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1 crore, they get 60% of the net revenue, and beyond Rs 1 crore, they get 70% of the revenues. Aggregator shall raise invoices after 6 months from the end of the Usage Month. Non-aggregators will raise circle-wise and service-wise invoices at the end of each usage month. Vodafone entities will make payments within 60 days of the receipt of the final invoice.
4. Billing without consent: This is particularly important, given that it’s an open platform. Aggregators will be fined Rs 2 crore for the 1st and Rs 5 crore for the 2nd violation, plus shut down of the erring service in each case. A third violation leads to a fine of Rs 10 crore and a shutdown of all services. Non-aggregators can be shut down permanently if found activating without consent, as well as being blacklisted. In addition to this, the non-aggregator can be asked to pay Vodafone a penalty of Rs. 1 crore or 130% of the gross annual turnover from the service, whichever is higher.
Note that Airtel also plans to open up its API, and we’ll see if other operators like Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications follow suit. This launch from Vodafone has been a long time coming, and it remains to be seen what will become of third party billing service providers like Roku, Neomobile and Fortumo in India.