Vodafone India will open up its API for monetization and partner management, taking an application store approach to third party services. The company has signed up with Aepona, and within 6-7 weeks, will enable its API across 23 circles, allowing partners such as software vendors, application developers, web-based service providers and enterprises to provide billing integration for applications and services targeting targeting Vodafone’s 147 million customer base. This open and direct to consumer play is a follow up to Vodafone changing the revenue share situation in India, moving to a 70:30 model, wherein the app developer/VAS company gets 70% of the revenue share.

It’s been a little over a year since Jonathan Bill, Head (Business Development and Innovation), Vodafone India had said that Vodafone was open to enabling direct to consumer plays. We spoke with him briefly about what this change means for the developer ecosystem in India, whether this makes VAS departments redundant, and how Vodafone will ensure that the process is not misused:

jonathan-billMediaNama: What does Vodafone India opening up its API do for developers?
Jonathan Bill: If you remember, I had changed the revenue share (and opened direct to consumer), and that was a precursor to this move. This is a much more of automated platform. We’ll go live in 6-7 weeks. Developers will be able to come to our portal, sign up for access, and start developing against the API exposed, and there will be one standard. It’s a global initiative, and any developer which has developed with our API, can use it globally.

If other operators follow suit in India, then you’ll be able to redeploy the application across operators. To get connected right now, you need to meet and persuade the operator. This will enable online signups and contract adherence. Deployment should take two weeks. The existing model is a six month process.

MediaNama: How do you ensure that this is not misused?
Jonathan Bill: Our default position is everybody is welcome. Instead of it being a large, incumbent aggregator, anybody can sign up. How do we make sure it’s not misused? it’s a blacklisting policy. We will test the service before it goes live, and then we will ensure that if someone misuses it, we will blacklist.

The principal use case is billing, and perhaps integrate the ability to send an SMS, and have a hyperlocation presence. There’s a whole bunch planned. We’ll make sure that nobody is able to bill customers incorrectly. Say you want to buy a game, you can do that, and our service deducts the balance. It’s handed over to us. If someone misuses it, we will take them down immediately.
We really work with a degree of trust, and it’s operating with no issues. We’re billing tens of crores a month through direct to consumer billing right now.

MediaNama: Does this make the VAS dept in an operator largely redundant?
Jonathan Bill: It makes their life easier. Using analytics, we can launch many many more services, and that’s when we might actually deepen our relationship based on what is working.

P.s.: Developers can sign up for now at http://developer.aepona.com/ (via)

Note: if you have any other questions for Jonathan Bill regarding this move, we can try and get them answered. Please mail us at nikhil@medianama.com or leave a comment

– #NAMA Video: Jonathan Bill & Mouli Raman On The Changing VAS Landscape