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What Happened To Facebook India’s Telco Billing Option?

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It appears that Facebook has discontinued payment through MOLePoints, Western Union QuickPay and Moneybookers for in-game goods purchase and for promoting posts in India. It also used to offer Boku/Zong based mobile payment option in India. At the time of writing this article, Facebook only offers PayPal and credit card payment as a mode of payment. We are not sure when this happened, however, the options have reduced significantly. It’s been two weeks since we contacted Facebook India for a clarification but, so far, there has been no response.


Transition from Facebook credits to Local Currency

For the uninitiated, Facebook allowed users to buy in-game goods through Facebook credits, a virtual money platform. Those credits could also be used to promote a post on user’s Facebook profile or page so that a large number of users in their network can view the update. Facebook had introduced Facebook credits in India in July 2011, however, it announced its transition to local currency from Facebook Credits in March 2013. The local currency option would now allow users to view price in local currency and bypass an extra step to purchase Facebook credits.

No Telco Billing?

Note that the ARPU for Asia stood at $0.69, significantly lower that the global ARPU of $1.54 for the Q4 2012. Facebook reported a revenue of $198 million Asia, a measly 12% of its total $1.585 billion for the quarter ending on December 30, 2012. About 84% of Facebook revenues as of Q4 2012 comes from advertising. Facebook’s dependence on  advertising revenue is baffling and it needs to figure out a way to monetize its large user base more efficiently.

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Facebook & Commerce In India

While this transition is underway, what’s particularly interesting is that now Facebook does not allow users to make a payment through telco billing, at least in India, even though it still lists MOLePoints as payment option Facebook credits for India on its help page. Telco billing could be one of the major modes of payment, at least for in-game goods, purchase in India.

Facebook reported71 million monthly active users (MAUs) for the quarter ending December 31, 2012, registering a 54% increase from the same quarter last year and a 9.2% increase sequentially, and earlier this month, it rolled out Facebook Gifts in India, thus allowing Facebook users in India to send offline gifts to people in the US. Telco billing could be useful for this.

While Facebook has reduced payment options, others are trying to leverage the social networks user base for enabling commerce: CCAvenue* recently launched Social Networks In-stream Payments (SNIP), an in-stream payment collection service which allows merchants to sell products through social networks. In an interview with MediaNama, CCAvenue CEO, Vishwas Patel, informed us that the payment function is independent of social networking sites, so they would not receive any money for this, and only be used for generating traffic.

*Disclosure: CCAvenue is an advertiser with MediaNama

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