Online video streaming application HOOQ hs partnered with Fortumo for direct carrier billing in India. Customers can now subscribe to HOOQ by charging payments to their mobile phone bill.

The subscription charge is either deducted from the prepaid balance or added to the user’s monthly postpaid invoice.

Fortumo had also signed a similar deal with Sony LIV earlier in December 2015.

The company says that the payment method is available to 584 million subscribers of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea in India on both prepaid and postpaid plans.

HOOQ is a start-up joint venture established in January 2015 by Singtel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. The video streaming service also says that it has 15,000 Hollywood and regional titles. HOOQ also signed a multi-year deal with Sun TV and would carry Sun TV’s library that includes a mix of films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. HOOQ also added over 1,000 Shemaroo video titles on its platform in August 2015.

More VOD players should look at carrier billing

Netflix had said that it is looking at local payment methods such as prepaid cards and gift cards. Currently, subscriptions for Netflix can be paid only via an international debit card or credit card. Paying for content has been a problem in India as it is unclear whether  companies like Netflix, movies and music on Google Play, iTunes may be violating the Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines for card-not-present transactions in India (there’s a counter argument that the company may not be in violation … yet).

Carrier billing still is a good way for video streaming applications to get users to pay for their subscriptions. In an interview with MediaNama, Fortumo chief business officer Gerri Kodres said that India grew to have the highest transactions for the company. Although,the transaction size in India is smaller than average: between $0.2 and $0.3 (around Rs 12.5 to Rs 19). Kodres added that that the trend in the value of transactions is slowly increasing, because more smartphones are in the market.

Other developments in carrier billing:

– Rovio, maker of Angry Birds game, entered into a carrier billing deal with Idea Cellular

– In December 2014, Microsoft enabled carrier billing on Windows Store in India with Idea Cellular, allowing Idea subscribers buy Windows phone apps through this payment option.

– In October 2014, carrier billing service Boku acquired competitor Mopay for an undisclosed amount.

– In March 2014, Gameloft started offering its old and existing games, as part of the subscription and as an inaugural offer, with Idea via carrier billing.