The evolution of mobile carrier payments

According to Bezinga, mobile payment volume is expected to increase tenfold by 2021. Perhaps more telling is a statistic from Moneymailme that 48% of 18-25 year olds believe that cash will be obsolete within the next 20 years. This suggests that credit cards and cash are already becoming things of the past.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that so many sectors have embraced mobile carrier billing. But how did it all begin?

Think back to the late 1990s - there seemed to be a new Hugh Grant film every week, the Spice Girls were fashion icons and mobile phones were almost too big to get your hand around. But this era was also special because it fostered the early development of mobile carrier payments.

In 1997, Coca Cola made it possible for consumers to text selected vending machines as a way of paying for a drink - this was the first mobile carrier payment.

Other companies were quick to follow trend; 1998 was the first year that paid mobile media content was delivered via SMS, with paid downloadable ringtones being commercially launched by Saunalahti.

Jump forward to the present day and the purpose of mobile payments has completely evolved. People rarely even have ringtones anymore, let alone buy them; we're so glued to our phones that most of us just keep them on silent.

There is certainly an irony to the fact that the original use of the mobile payment has become completely redundant and instead, its uses have multiplied and modernised to suit our needs in the present day; whether it's charging digital content to mobile, donating to charity or paying for insurance - modern day mobile carrier billing and SMS billing covers it.

It’s all about convenience now. It means being able to pay for apps, games and digital content instantly (according to Media Post, 72% of digital music consumers purchase music on their mobile device!). It means being able to donate to charity without having to move from your sofa. Even tickets are purchased via mobile now, with carrier billing being used for cinema tickets or parking.

And all of this without even having to get your credit card out.

The evolution of mobile carrier payments is accelerating so quickly, because consumers and companies love it; it’s quick, it’s simple and it’s seamless.

How charities can effectively complement a mobile strategy: Google Grants

If you’ve never heard of Google Grants and you’re a charity, you need to start dreaming about what you’d do with $10,000 (around £8,200) of in-kind advertising each month.

To qualify, you must be operating as a not for profit organisation. The grant is available to any charity that fits within Google’s criteria.

Whether you’re a charity looking for donations, beneficiaries, campaigners, or people and teams looking for a charity to support by doing a specific challenge, Google Adwords is effective at driving traffic to achieve these goals.

How’s this going to complement my mobile strategy? 

Well, this benefits both desktop and mobile search. But it’s particularly interesting for mobile; at the end of last year, Google launched its click-to-message extensions where people searching on Google can immediately text in with a question, request a call back or donate via text message in response to a campaign. For donations this essentially means that clicking on an advert in the search results will open up the SMS app on mobile, with a prepopulated message, ready for people to instantly make a text donation - pretty nifty right? We think so too.

We thought we’d guide you through how to get started with a Google Grant account so you can start taking advantage of this opportunity.

Is my charity eligible? 

Simply visit this link to check eligibility for the programme.

How do I apply? 

To get started you’ll need to create an AdWords account with at least one campaign, you’ll then need to choose your keywords, create ads and identify the actions you want people to take (i.e. donate, register, request information). This is purely to demonstrate your understanding of how Google Adwords works so they’re reassured that you’re able to use it effectively. Ensure your campaign is set to ‘search only’ (campaigns on the display network are not included in the funding), set the currency to US dollars and simply submit your account for approval. You will not need to enter any billing information.

To apply for the grant you’ll need a validation token from TechSoup - if you don’t already have an account it’s easy to sign up.

What next?

As soon as the account has been authorised by Google, you’ll be allocated $330 value to ‘spend’ each day in Google AdWords.

To make the most of your grant, your account will require optimisation time to focus on your key goals and deliverables. Making sure your search terms, adverts and landing pages are as relevant as possible will help to keep your free costs down, allowing you to really maximise your budget.

Your max CPC (cost per click) is restricted to $2 with Google Grants. Whilst this has limitations in terms of the search terms you can use in your campaigns, it simply means you need to think 'niche' because higher volume traffic keywords are more expensive. So instead of having a keyword phrase like “donate to charity”, you might have a keyword phrase like “donate to a children’s charity in the UK”.

Won’t this limit our success? 

Think of it like this: if you have two people in the market for buying a new TV and one person searches for ‘Good TVs’ and another person searches ‘55 inch LED Samsung TV’, who do you think is more likely to make a purchase? Most probably the person who searched for a ‘55 inch LED Samsung TV’. Why? Because they know exactly what they want. So you will probably find that you actually increase your goal conversions by selecting keywords that are more niche and specific to your charity.

What else do I need to know? 

As with all marketing campaigns A/B testing adverts, landing pages and price points is key to success.

Want to know more? 

If you don’t already have a Google Grants account and meet the eligibility criteria then it makes perfect sense to apply. Get in touch with the Fonix team if you would like any more information, we’ll be more than happy to help -

How to craft an exceptional mobile carrier billing payment screen

Today’s mobile-empowered consumers expect everything immediately. As the point of conversion, it’s crucial that the mobile carrier billing payment screen is well-designed with concise content for optimum success rates. This content needs to be compliant, simple and user-friendly.

Corporate branding 
This needs to be clearly displayed, but not too large that it detracts from the main content of your screen.

The pricing needs to be prominent, written in UK sterling and the full cost of the service needs to be given. If the service is a subscription, it needs to be clear to the consumer how often they will be paying and how much. Don't be misleading!

Clear instructions
Make sure that the 2-factor authentication process is clearly explained.

Non-premium contact method
This needs to be included. It should be obvious but not distracting.

Service description
You need full, consistent and prominent detail of service terms in a large, clear font.

Keep it simple
Don't overwhelm consumers with too much text and make sure that you use a colour scheme that is appropriate to your brand.

Explanation of charges
This needs to be transparent and clear, that explains the cost will be charged to the mobile phone bill.

Use concise, punchy wording.

And Don't Forget... 

- If the service is a competition, is there a question of skill or a free entry route?

- If marketing messages are likely to be sent, is this explained? The nature of the messages should be disclosed and there should be an option to opt out of this service.

- Do you need age controls? These should be clearly displayed. It's also best to avoid using formatting or colours that will entice children if the content is not applicable to them.

 - Have you considered what to provide customers with after purchases? You should provide payment verification screens, receipts, subscription notifications and spend reminders.

Revealed: the top 20 most generous cities in the UK

There are now more mobile phones in the world than there are toothbrushes, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

With so many people now using mobile phones, there has been increasing demand for mobile carrier payments in a number of sectors, including charity.

Donating to charity via mobile is perfect: it’s quick, simple and you can do it chilling on the sofa.

You don’t even have to speak to anyone.

Given that it’s become such a popular method of donating, we looked at a sample of data from a range of charities that Fonix works with, to determine which UK cities are the most generous when it comes to mobile donations.

Exeter came out on top with a fantastic result.

Meanwhile, the South-East, which was expected to be high in the rankings given its financial wealth, didn’t score as highly as predicted; the only South-Eastern cities which made the list were Portsmouth at 16 and London at 19.

The top 10 was a mixture of cities outside of the South-East, all over the UK. The shock results were Preston at 6 and Nottingham at 10, both of which are smaller, less wealthy cities.

Our unexpected results prove that the wealthiest cities are by no means the most generous!

Click the image below to view the full results:

Introducing: a revamped carrier billing platform!

Published by: Joe Darkins, Technology Director.
We're thrilled to announce that we've launched a new reporting and configuration platform for our FPay carrier billing service! We don’t shout about every change we make, but this one is worth special mention.

Fonix is finally shaking off the shackles of a ‘start-up’ and is maturing into a dominant player in the mobile payments and services sector, so we want our platforms to reflect our ambition. This release shows the changes we're making to wow our customers and continue our impressive growth.  

FPay is Fonix’s mobile carrier billing product, covering payforit and bespoke custom screens. It lets our clients integrate carrier billing into web platforms seamlessly, whilst leveraging our compliant payment screens. This is a key platform, as carrier billing increases its scope and FPay provides a simple way to integrate into any business or system.

The new platform allows users to:

·       Create new services
·       Manage existing services
·       Customise your payment screens
·       Provide reporting across services
·       Drill down into data for detailed analysis
·       Monitor subscription length on services

The platform has been designed with Fonix’s key UX principles:

·       Efficiency : Ability to perform actions and tasks quickly and efficiently
·       Discoverability : Easily discover features and information
·       Learnability : Quickly remember how to engage with products and services
·       System performance : Responsive to user actions
·       Delight : A product designed to delight through design and usability

There has been a complete design revamp and the platform is built upon a new technology stack. Fonix's system approach is centred around continuous integration, which means new features and releases can be released incrementally and quickly. This means that we can continuously improve customer experience.

Keep your eyes peeled for changes to other platforms, there will be some major improvements coming your way in 2017!

Fonix ranked #238 in the Deloitte Fast 500!

We’re super excited to announce that Fonix has received worldwide recognition and has ranked
238th in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 2016!

This extremely competitive awards programme is now in its sixteenth year and the winners’ event was held on 8th December in the Eiffel tower.

Those that make the list really are considered to be the best of the best and span a variety of sectors, including clean technology, communications, hardware, life sciences, media and software. They are all of an incredibly high standard when it comes to innovation, entrepreneurship and growth.

Both in 2015 and again this year, we’ve made the Deloitte Fast 50 and we’re so pleased that we’ve upped our game this year and received even more recognition.

It’s all down to our dedicated team who are consistently delivering the best possible mobile payment solutions for clients.

Bring on 2017!

Fonix ranked in the Deloitte Fast 50, again!

Great news! Fonix has once again been ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards - in at number 37. Fonix was joined by companies such as Brainlabs, Zopa and Skyscanner to name a few.

The Deloitte Fast 50 is a ranking of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK. The ranking is based on revenue growth over the last four years.

It’s great to win our place in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards this year. The news follows our recent achievement in the annual Sunday Times Tech Track where we ranked at number 28 (which was another second year ranking).

Winning both awards for the second year running demonstrates our consistent approach to delivering cutting-edge mobile billing solutions.

Check out the full Fast 50 league table.

Fundraising via text-to-donate: BBC Children in Need Rocks for Terry

Last night BBC One took viewers to London’s Royal Albert Hall for a special fundraising concert to honour broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan, who sadly passed away in January.

Take That, Ellie Goulding, Gregory Porter and Alfie Boe were just some of the star-studded line up who performed at the concert.

We are very proud to be providing the text-to-donate platform for the Children in Need campaign.

Last night donors had a choice of three charity donation short codes. For the first time viewers had the option to donate £20 via text, as well as the more conventional £10 and £5 charity donation short code values.

The money raised from the show will go to Children in Need, which changes the lives of disadvantaged and young people around the UK. Sir Terry held this charity very close to his heart, he also hosted the telethon for over 30 years.

This year’s telethon takes place later this week on November 18, kicking off at 7pm.

Software engineering VS the America’s cup

Hi! My name is David Pereira a.k.a @flavaspace. I am a software engineer - mostly web (Ruby, Node, JS, C#), Bibliophile and outright supporter of the software craftsmanship manifesto. I’ve been working here at Fonix for over a month now and I thought I’d share some of the really awesome things about working here.

If you’d asked me a few months ago, I would have thought that joining a fast-moving tech company meant facing people concentrated on speed over quality on a daily basis. A hipster centric environment where cold brew coffee would percolate overnight in glass beakers, developers would be wearing white lab coats, obsessing over white space in the code and maybe a sales team that could only remind you of the movie Boiler Room - old school.

Walking through the front door and being introduced to some of the team, revealed nothing of the sort. A smart, casually dressed and trendy group of people sharing a brightly painted space surrounded by windows everywhere. If the place had anymore natural light I’d swear I was in Kew Gardens! The finance, marketing, technical, customer service and sales teams are all one floor - even the founders mix in and sit with everyone. It’s a really collaborative atmosphere and there isn’t the need to initiate conversations with an email on every occasion, or worse - a calendar event!

My misconceptions of "Deliver first and then worry about customer complaints second" were obliterated. In many cases rushing an awesome product to delivery could be a bad idea! - exploding Samsung anyone?

I had my work cut out for me though. Not having worked on highly concurrent systems before, I was eager to get started. Our technical stack consists of some pretty mainstream languages and frameworks (Ruby, Rails, Javascript) and some more interesting ones too (Erlang - A major reason for me wanting to join).

If you’re going to get to grips with multiple projects - I find pairing an absolute must. Especially when it comes to building a view on the higher level system architecture. This was, in a nutshell, what I did for the first month here at Fonix - and not just with the developers! Speaking to the whole Fonix team about how they saw the company gave me this wide eyed view of how Fonix as a team of individuals share responsibility and think about the bottom line - it's essentially all they do. It’s the kind of culture that breathes new ideas and inspires us to try and stay one step ahead of the trend line. You couldn’t get more excited about mobile payments anywhere else.

It's like the America’s cup and everyone in the team has an important role to play. They do it and continuously try to improve on what they do. Where every person in the team makes a difference for every minute they're in the competition - a real difference. You make a move, and so does the company (or the yacht) - there’s no buffer here. Working here is on the wire. You build something and in most cases the value being delivered is almost instant! Forget about trying to make a difference - everything you deliver - is the difference! You're not just a number or a name - you're part of the reason the company makes or breaks it.

A month in and it's clear that I’m not just a hire - I’m part of a fast paced, eclectic and forward thinking team who are focussed on delivering quality solutions to clients.

What’s more, everyone is looking for exciting ways to make mobile payments awesome.

Top 10 takeaways: The Future of Monetising Digital Content

Last week we came together with O2 to co-host an event themed around monetising digital content. Broadcasters, media agencies, digital content publishers and brands all descended on Heddon Street Kitchen for breakfast.

The morning presented a great opportunity to learn about top trends and best practice when it comes to mobile billing, as well as highlighting the key trends for the future.

Chaired by David Murphy of Dot Media, the opening presentations included Mobilesquared’s Nick Lane and IAB’s Jon Mew who talked about trends in digital content consumption. Shortly following there were presentations from Nigel Alexander from BuyGameCredit and Michael Tomlins from Infomedia who looked at industry insights for competing for consumers in a digital content market.

By mid-morning a heated panel debate was kicking off, the panelists included Deezer’s Christian Harris, Kevin Judge from tastecard, Gavin Carpenter from Phonovation and Ilicco Elia from DigitasLBI. A debate was built up around whether or not to charge for content and the possible payment models - free with ads, freemium, paid for content, subscriptions models and more.

The morning came to a close with Danny Barclay from O2 who gave away a whooping £50,000 worth of performance marketing campaigns from Weve.

Here’s 10 interesting takeaways dropped during the morning:

 #1 Nick Lane, Chief Insight Analyst at Mobilesquared - carrier billing stats 
Some solid carrier billing stats - here’s a couple that made us all go “WOW”:

6.4m people in the UK use carrier billing to make a purchase

34.3m is the potential user base for carrier billing in the UK

 #2 Jon Mew, COO at IAB - mobile can create strange behaviour 
People have become glued to their mobile devices. Whilst this level of engagement is great for brands, check out what happened to this guy in the background of this video - ooooops.

#3 Nigel Alexander, Marketing Manager at Phonovation - carrier billing has impact was created by Phonovation for consumers to be able to buy Xbox, Playstation and more game credit using their mobile phone bill.

Now, 96% of all sales come through mobile.

#4 Michael Tomlins, CEO at Infomedia - carrier billing is social media friendly
Carrier billing is social media friendly. Rather than having to implement a full payment system, you can easily direct people from a Facebook or Twitter page - and within just a few clicks a payment can be made.

#5 Christian Harris, VP Northern Europe at Deezer - how to find the perfect subscription 
Subscriptions or one-off payments? Long-term business benefits from a subscription model, especially in music and VOD where there is a wide range of content available. The key to this approach is having a range of options depending on the segment eg families vs single user vs HD audio, all targeting different user groups.

 #6 Gavin Carpenter, CEO at Phonovation - credit cards vs carrier payments
When it comes to selecting payment methods, the smallest number of clicks is preferable. Where mobile is the medium used, mobile should be the payment mechanism used, unless using a pre-registered “one click payment” credit card payment is offered - like Amazon. Credit card doesn’t work for micropayments. It’s worth thinking about your audience, service and price point - how would your customers like to pay?

#7 Kevin Judge, VP Northern Europe at tastecard - test and learn
The optimum freemium model really depends on the product and purchaser and at tastecard they have seen much higher conversion to full paid subscriptions when people pay £1 for a 90 day trial, compared with people who take out a free trial. People tend to want trials when products are new and they haven’t been recommended by friend or relative already using them. What appeals and makes people purchase will be different based on individual and product. In summary, in order to find the optimum conversion for a product you’ll have to test using different purchase options.

#8 Ilicco Elia, Head of Mobile at DigitasLBI - the type of content that should be charged for 
Content that has value should be charged for, content that is generic or is found in many places needs to be free. The challenge will be working out which is which. The key takeaway is not to assume your content deserves a price tag - is it unique? Will your customer gain value from it?

#9 Consumer trust
One common theme across the event was how important it is for brands to build consumer trust. Payments boil down to trust - in both the product and the payment method. If you educate, have good content and create transparency around your carrier billing offering, you’re 100% there.

#10 Brekkie  ūüćĆūüćď ūüć≥
And finally, the yummy bacon sarnies and fruit yoghurt pots :).

Fonix ranks 28 in the 2016 Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track

The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 has ranked Fonix at number 28 in its annual business report, a rise of six places from the company’s 2015 ranking at 34.

The Tech Track is an independently ranked list of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies based on size, turnover and profit.

Launched in 2014, Fonix’s carrier billing platform processes more than 400,000 transactions every day, and has handled in excess of £95m of consumer payments in the past 12 months.  Its customers are principally in media, entertainment and digital commerce industries and include Channel 5, Comic Relief, Powwownow and Daily Mail Group. 

In November 2015 Fonix launched Zensend, a two-way SMS platform with direct connections to every UK mobile operator. Via a simple API, Zensend provides developers and businesses with the ability to add messaging functionality to apps and platforms worldwide.  

In just three years, under the leadership of CEO Rob Weisz, the company has seen sales growth from £4.8m in 2014 to £41m in 2016.

Weisz previously spearheaded Mobile Interactive Group’s commercial division, which ranked number 1 in the Tech Track in 2008 before the company was bought for £37m by American mobile marketing giant, Velti, in 2011.

Commenting on the announcement, Rob Weisz said: “Advancing our Tech Track position by six places to 28th marks a phenomenal year for Fonix and Zensend, our technology and staff who form the cornerstone of this success. 

“The company’s growth also reflects an accelerating appetite for simple carrier billing - and on the A2P messaging side, a growing understanding of how SMS improves consumer engagement and is the most trusted channel for everyday functions like two-factor authentication.”

BuyGameCredit selects Fonix to enable mobile payments for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network content

We're excited to announce that Fonix has been selected by Microsoft Partner, to enable players to purchase Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Network subscriptions, Gift Card credit and games instantly, using their mobile phone.

BuyGameCredit, from Irish company Phonovation, allows players to purchase Xbox Live and PlayStation Network subscriptions, and content simply by sending an SMS text message. Customers then receive a text message containing their content code, with the cost of their purchase being charged to their mobile phone bill. 

Alternatively, customers can enter their mobile phone number and network to complete a purchase. Using this method, it’s also possible to deposit funds into the BuyGameCredit wallet.

Buying Xbox and PlayStation content via mobile has proved to be an extremely popular channel with gamers. In fact, in a recent BuyGameCredit customer survey, 93% said they’d never buy games credit using any other payment channel than mobile. 

Fonix has direct connections to all the UK mobile networks and is also a Vodafone Platinum Partner and EE Performance Partner. This has enabled Fonix to maximise commercial and operational efficiency, ensuring Phonovation, a Micrsoft Partner, receives the most competitive rates alongside a robust and reliable service. 

The bespoke solution combines both SMS and Carrier Billing, to deliver a seamless on-brand experience.

Anthony Baladi, Commercial Director of Fonix, said: “We’re really excited to be part of the BuyGameCredit service, as from the research it’s clear that 93% of customers prefer the simplicity of mobile as their primary payment method.” 

“We’ve worked extremely hard with our network partners to create a competitive solution for Phonovation, to provide great value, reliability and efficiency.”

Gavin Carpenter, CEO, Phonovation, added: “BuyGameCredit has proved to be a huge success for Xbox and PlayStation and a real hit with gamers, who now prefer to buy content via mobile, than any other channel.” 

“As a result, we’re really pleased to be able to work with the team at Fonix to ensure that the service continues to deliver the levels of convenience and efficiency consumers have come to expect.”

In this mobile-first era, can merchants afford to ignore Carrier Billing?

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
The use of smartphones has skyrocketed in recent years to overtake desktop as our most used digital platform. As a result, our expectations of how the mobile apps and websites we use should perform has also increased, making mobile UX the prime weapon in the battle to attract and retain customers. 

Whereas enabling convenience used to be the primary remit for mobile services, today’s consumers expect these services to be as intuitive and frictionless as possible, often deciding which supermarket, bank, retailer or travel provider to use based on the strength of the mobile experience on offer.

It’s clear from the latest annual review by phone-paid services regulator PhonepayPlus, that customers clearly like using Carrier Billing as revenues from the payment mechanic have surged by 50% in the last year and are expected to continue to grow over the next twelve months. The problem is, many merchants still aren’t convinced.

Apples and pears

For many it simply comes down to the cost per transaction. With Carrier Billing merchants pay between 10-15% per transaction, with credit cards it’s 1-2%, but to understand the full potential of Carrier Billing it’s a bit like comparing apples with pears.

The big advantage of Carrier Billing lies in how frictionless it is, requiring only a couple clicks to complete a transaction. Let’s face it, nobody wants to have to manually enter their credit card details, especially when they’re on the move. As a result, conversion rates from Carrier Billing have always been vastly superior and up to 300% higher than those of credit card, because of this hugely simplified checkout flow.

For the consumer, having to pay by credit card when on the move can be a deal breaker. Carrier Billing on the other hand actually helps merchants earn incremental revenue from customers who may have abandoned their cart if faced with a lengthy payment scenario.

Carrier Billing – the awakening

The success of Carrier Billing has always been built on its unparalleled inclusion; able to reach the widest possible audience including the unbanked. This made it the ideal payment mechanic for digital goods like music downloads, videos and games but while Carrier Billing is still great for that, its appeal is beginning to be felt in new markets.

In particular, the pace is beginning to pick-up around the use of Carrier Billing into areas such as ticketing, financial services and entertainment with operators, brands and payment providers developing innovative new solutions to enable brands to drive new revenue streams.

As revenues from Carrier Billing continue to grow over the next year and the rate of innovation increases, consumers will automatically expect to be able to charge goods and services straight to their mobile phone bills. As a result, it will be those merchants which offer this flexibility that will benefit.

Third Sector: Charities and the quiet revolution in digital

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
Over the last eighteen months, the charity sector has been on the receiving end of a barrage of negative headlines, mainly as a result of its heavy handed fundraising techniques, which in some cases have bordered on harassment. 

As the sector begins to get its house in order once again, behind all the media furore a quiet revolution has been taking place, which has recently seen charity donations become the largest market for phone-paid payments.

These are the findings of the latest annual review from mobile payments regulator PhonepayPlus and analyst house Mobilesquared, but just how has the charity sector managed to become the doyen of the payment market?

As the report highlights, the phone-paid payments market is driven increasingly by mobile, which has become an important channel for fundraising and donor engagement. As a result, it’s not surprising that charity revenues are impressive when you consider that Children in Need alone generated £6.6m via mobile in 2015. However, the fact charity is now the leading phone-paid payments market is down to more than just a volume play.

Charities getting more intelligent 
What we’re seeing more and more of is how charities are becoming more sophisticated in their use of mobile. While text donations have been in operation for many years now, charities are increasingly focusing on what happens beyond the point of donation, using data to intelligently foster deeper engagement and ultimately increase donations. 

Because of the new legislation brought in to curb chuggers, alongside calls to reform how charities approach fundraising, when it comes to mobile, charities have been taking a very careful approach, as they try to restore consumer trust. 

This is being achieved mainly through a better understanding of their audience afforded by the availability of consumer data, which has enabled charities to develop more sophisticated segmentation and communication techniques. This gradual shift to better more intelligent targeting has coincided with a surge in the average mobile donation value, which has increased from £5 to £10 in the last twelve months. 

While this is clearly evident of growing trust in mobile donations, the big win moving forward for charities lies in mobile CRM. Charities and mobile It’s clear from the review that mobile has become a hugely valuable channel for the charity sector in terms of revenue, but it’s the opportunity the channel offers in terms of more intelligent fundraising and donor engagement strategies which is where the charity sector is beginning to score points. 

We know that consumers don’t want to speak directly to charities any more for fear that they might get the hard-sell, so it’s now down to the charities to engage with consumers in way that’s both personal and engaging. 

In fact, with the review reporting the continued decline of revenues from voice based services the take away for charities is clear – talk is cheap.

Fonix: ahead of the revenue curve

It’s great to see from the recently released PhonepayPlus FY 2015 -16 annual review that operator billing revenues have grown by more than 50% in the last year, a trend which is expected to continue over the next twelve months.

At Fonix we’re not bang on trend, we’re ahead of the curve - having increased our Carrier Billing revenues by 111% over the same period. We’ve managed to achieve this by continuing to help our clients use this frictionless payment solution in new and creative ways, increasing payment conversion and revenue streams.

The PPP report also found that when it comes to consumer trust in mobile payments, charities are amongst the most trusted organisations by consumers. This trend certainly reflects the results we’ve been able to deliver for our charity clients such as Comic Relief and Children in Need.

Rob Weisz, CEO of Fonix, comments:

“It’s great to see the industry thriving. As Carrier Billing continues to grow we’re focussing our efforts on innovation, while entering into markets that have not traditionally seen Carrier Billing before such as financial, casual gaming and leisure.”

To read the full PPP report visit here.

If you are interested to see how Fonix to help your organisation benefit from using Carrier Billing please get in touch: email or call +44 020 8114 7000.

Making SMS competition CRM more personal

Published by: Martha McCubbin, Client Services Manager.
Text messaging has proved to be an effective channel for generating audience engagement and interaction, which is why some of the largest commercial broadcasters such as Channel 5 and Discovery Channel work with Fonix to deliver SMS competitions.

Our platform makes it really easy to configure predefined campaign start and end times, cost per entry, entry limits and more. In addition to this, we have recently added new functionality to enable broadcasters to provide a more tailored experience when creating marketing communications, to maximise response rates and increase revenue for those campaigns.

There’s no longer the need to export raw data in order to manually segment it to build tailored send lists; you can now create send lists by selecting as much or as little criteria as necessary from a simple dropdown list, for example:

* any user who has entered 'competition x' in the last 3 months; OR
* any user who has entered 'competition x' more than 3 times in the last month but not the most recent 'competition y'; OR
* any user who has entered 'competition y' once in the last 6 months but entered 'competition y' 6 or more times prior

Once built, lists do not need to be exported and re-uploaded into our platform; now, once a list has been created it can be saved in the platform for future use or it can be used immediately in our Bulk Sender tool. The list can also be emailed directly to a user if required. 

Any opt outs are automatically removed so there’s no need to worry about forgetting to remove any numbers. The reporting tool allows users to watch the push go out in real time.

The user can also see how many unique mobile numbers have responded as well as how many successful competition interactions have been generated. The user can also set a threshold for the number of interactions that are needed in order to see a profit. This updates in real time to indicate when a campaign has successfully broken even.

“Over the last 3 years we’ve enjoyed a great working relationship with Fonix, with the team always delivering an exceptional technical and operational service.”
Melissa Goodwin, Head of Commercial Partnerships, Channel 5/Viacom

If you would like to know more please drop us an email: or call 020 8114 7000.

Fonix wins at The Drum Moma Awards 2016

We entered The Drum Moma Awards 2016 for our partnership with Children in Need, in providing simple, spontaneous text donations. We're proud to announce that we won the Not-For Profit/Charity Mobile Strategy/Campaign award!

Left to right: Martha McCubbin, Client Services Manager, Louisa Harris, Client Services Director and Clare Charles, Commercial Account Manager

Our data-driven CRM and mobile marketing mechanics allowed BBC Children in Need to provide consumers with a tailored experience, resulting in high numbers of donors declaring their eligibility for Gift Aid. 

The solutions and expert approach to account management focused on specific objectives that ultimately achieved record-breaking results.

A huge thank you to Children in Need and also to the judges and The Drum for recognising our value in the market.

The MOMA Awards celebrate the campaigns, brands and agencies at the forefront of the mobile industry. For a full list of winners visit here.

A look back at last week’s mobile billing and messaging event

Published by: Hannah Giles, Head of Marketing.

Last Wednesday we came together with Vodafone to co-host our first mobile billing and messaging event. A great afternoon began at Oxford street’s new rooftop bar, Notch. On arrival Negronis, Old Fashioneds and Adonis were served in colourful tins resembling vintage tuna cans, setting the scene for what was to be a fantastic event.

There were insightful presentations from Vodafone, Badoo, Comic Relief and from Rob Weisz, our CEO at Fonix.

Dave Stephens, Head of B2B enablers at Vodafone UK talked about turning visitors into customers via Carrier Billing and how it’s becoming such as integral payment method for merchants. Dave also talked about how Vodafone is fully supporting initiatives in getting Carrier Billing into new markets such as ticketing.

Patrick Bonham, Senior Payments Manager and Dejan Rikic, Director, Billing and Payments at Badoo told us all of the importance of Carrier Billing as part of Badoo’s payments mix. Whilst there’s some inevitable challenges in certain markets in the world, the accessibility of Carrier Billing to consumers and incredible conversion rates compared to other payment methods (in some regions it’s so dominant that other payment mechanics are negligible) makes Carrier Billing the primary payment method in Badoo’s commercial strategy.

Kat Heath, Product Manager at Comic Relief shared how mobile donations have increased year on year and played a vital role in helping to raise money for good causes under the Comic Relief umbrella. Kat discussed how successful bulk SMS has been and how this messaging will continue to be in the initiatives to encourage Gift Aid declarations. Kat also enlightened us to where Comic Relief sees the future of mobile donations with the key focus being around increasing donation price points.

Rob Weisz, CEO at Fonix summarised the presentations and mentioned some key stats that are driving a positive impact in the industry: 

  • 30% conversion increase: Fonix see a minimum of 30% increase in payments taken when Carrier Billing is introduced alongside other payment methods.

  • 0% churn: whether it’s in charity donations, online paywalls, media interactions or gaming credits Fonix has not seen any churn with existing payment methods for merchants when they introduce Carrier Billing.

  • 47% reduction in basket abandonment: Fonix has seen merchants use Carrier Billing as a means to reduce basket abandonment when consumers choose not to purchase at check out with some incredible results.

  • 56% SMS engagement rates: Fonix gave statistics of user engagement to outbound SMS marketing campaigns for some of its merchants where the merchants have worked to optimise and segment their user data bases. These results provide a higher ROI than any other channel that the merchants have used.

After the presentations, the networking was in full swing, quite literally too - yes there were actual swings!

It was great to catch up and provide strategic insight to clients and partners who have all contributed to the continued success of both Fonix and Vodafone.

SMS is key to restoring consumer trust in the charity sector

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
Last year the essential bond between donor and charity was almost stretched to breaking point, when the widespread use of aggressive fundraising techniques coupled with numerous allegations of harassment, left consumer trust within the charity sector in tatters.

After the sector’s annus horribilis, I was keen to read this year's Fundraising Media DNA Report which was published last Friday, to try get a handle on which channels donors are going to prefer using to engage with their chosen charities.

The report benchmarks donor attitudes to the various digital channels used by charities for engagement and fundraising like email, DRTV and social media. Each channel is ranked for criteria such as perceived trustworthiness and how much consumers would welcome communications via that channel.

We know from our own research that donors really don’t want to engage with fundraisers directly, either in-person or over the phone anymore for fear of getting the hard-sell. However, with charities eager to rebuild the relationship with consumers, which channels are donors going to be most receptive to?

The report found that SMS donor engagement had increased from last year, with a significant growth in how trustworthy donors felt the channel is. SMS also ranked extremely highly as a personalised medium, but that’s not main point about SMS that will have caught the eye of the charity sector.

A key insight was that while donors from different age groups favour different digital channels, SMS has proved especially popular amongst the 35-54 year old group, which is also happens to be the highest value demographic is terms of the amount donated each year.

Finding the right balance

In recent years the charity sector has become overly commercialised in some cases, to the point where hitting short-term fundraising targets has come at the expense of long-term relationships with donors.

It’s clear from the report that digital channels are going to play a major part in helping charities connect with donors and rebuild those relationships, but they’ll have to strike the perfect balance between positive engagement and unwelcome intrusion.

This means thinking beyond the first-time donation and actually asking what kind of long-term relationship do charities want with their donors? I’m sure that most charities already have good, respectful relationships with their donors, but when it comes to digital engagement, especially via mobile, its important to respect donor anonymity without the piling on the pressure to donate more.

With mobile messaging you have the ability to include links to websites and social media channels, so once a small donation has been made via SMS, it’s then possible to engage that donor in a number of ways that will feel welcoming, rather than intrusive.

The current use of mobile messaging for fundraising and donor engagement is only the tip of the iceberg. As the Fundraising Media DNA report reveals, the popularity of SMS is set to surge in the next twelve months, especially amongst high value donors. I just hope when it comes to respecting donor anonymity that charity sector has finally got the message.

Creating transparency in mobile payments

Published by: Louisa Harris, Client Services Director.
We've been keeping busy improving our technology platforms to deliver the most reliable mobile payment products in the industry - we can proudly say that we work with a range of high-profile clients such as Channel 5, Powwownow, Daily Mail Group, AIMIA, Three and Tastecard.

We’re so serious about delivering great quality of service that we recently built a dedicated consumer page on our website with a mobile charges look-up feature.

As the payment provider for a number of services, “Fonix” is the charge detail that appears on a consumer’s mobile phone bill. This can cause confusion as this doesn’t reference the service that it is related to.

As we keep pushing to increase transparency and build consumer trust in the mobile payments industry, the new feature means that our clients’ customers can quickly look-up any charges that have appeared on their mobile phone bill. The feature provides the name of the service that the consumer has been charged for and its associated contact details should they wish to make changes to their payments and subscriptions.

The service also uses SMS authentication so that each look-up is securely verified before any services details are displayed. Fonix is currently the only payment gateway to provide a secure way for consumers to look-up charges online.

We’re already seeing a number of consumers using our service, it’s great for consumer confidence - billing details can be accessed immediately.

A new look and feel for Fonix

Published by: Hannah Giles, Head of Marketing.
Fonix has been growing rapidly, with revenues rising from £4.8m in 2013 to £28m in 2015 - driven by blue chip clients such as Channel 5, Powwownow, Daily Mail Group, AIMIA, Three and Jersey Telecom. The business is currently handling in excess of £6m of user payments per month with this set to increase with a number of new merchants coming on board this year.

We're excited to share with you our new website. As a market leader, it's important for us to drive our focussed and clear strategy through our brand as we continue to support our partners in the mobile payments and messaging space.

We decided to not just tweak the logo and create a new website but re-think our entire online strategy, ready for the next phase of growth.

So, what have we been up to?

We’d committed to a strategy of continued growth and with the launch of our Direct Payments API just over a year ago, our new payments solutions were well underway. 

And with continued growth in the A2P messaging market, we decided at the end of last year to call out our messaging solutions, and launched Zensend. 

A few months later, it was a natural transition to redefine our Fonix offering, positioning specifically on mobile payments. 

This latest branding reflects the experience, expertise and ambition of Fonix and provides a clear proposition in the mobile payments space. We hope it demonstrates our bold, focussed and innovative culture. 

We’re now moving forward with Phase 2 of our online ambitions with plans to allow our merchants to take even more control with integration, configuration, support and analytics with a number of key announcements and deployments to be delivered throughout the course of this year - watch this space!

Effective strategies for maximising Gift Aid collection on mobile

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
For many charities, Gift Aid contributions provide an essential upside to consumer donations, providing money that is often used as operational income, enabling charities to pass 100 per cent of the donations on to those that need the money most.
For charities to prosper in today’s digital age it’s vital that they engage with consumers and accept donations from a range of touch points, from online to mobile. However, the channel the donor uses to make a donation can have a major bearing on the amount of Gift Aid the charity is able to collect.
When a donation payment is made using a credit card online, the donor enters their address as part of their donation. As they fill out the donation details, they can also review and agree a Gift Aid declaration in the same step, which is why charities are typically able to collect a much higher Gift Aid percentage from credit card donors.
When collecting Gift Aid from a text message payment made through the telephone bill, the process is split into two steps. In step one, the donor simply sends an SMS to a short code and the donation amount is taken from the phone bill. The Gift Aid declaration is then requested by the charity in a second step after the donation. This is the key reason why Gift Aid conversions rates can be as low as 15-20 per cent for mobile payments.
However, with the right strategy charities can double the amount of Gift Aid they generate through mobile.
Reducing the friction
Mobile is undoubtedly the simplest and most convenient way for anyone to donate money to charity. But we know it doesn’t always work for charities and, if the process is overly complex, consumers just won’t bother.
It’s essential that charities consider text donations as a key ingredient of their donation strategies, and mobile CRM must be catered for within those.
A mistake that a lot of charities make is to ask only once for Gift Aid, at the time of the donation – but donor engagement shouldn’t end there. What we’ve seen from campaigns such as Children In Need is that a donor can still be receptive to giving Gift Aid days after the point at which they made their donation. For example, by sending out a personalised SMS reminder message containing a clickable link inviting them to make a declaration, you can actually convert to Gift Aid a large number of donations that you had previously written off.
In terms of Gift Aid claims, a key area where charities often fall down is in not being able to match repeat donors with existing Gift Aid declarations. Creating a mechanic that recognises repeat donors by their mobile numbers can be hugely effective for increasing Gift Aid conversion because donors don’t need to be asked twice – this might seem obvious, but it’s a common occurrence with a number of existing mobile text donation campaigns.
Clear communication
One of the best ways to increase the amount of Gift Aid you collect is to increase the volume and value of the donations you receive. That might be pretty simple maths, but looking at how your mobile messages are structured can make a big difference.
Clear messaging throughout your campaigns to let your supporters know how specific tariff donations will be used is important, because it creates more of an emotional connection. For example, using triggers such as “£10 will buy …” helps the recipient to visualise how their money will be used, which is likely to help them decide to give money.
Encouraging multiple price points for individual campaigns allows calls to action to be tailored specifically to the audience at that time. Where they normally would have had only £5 price point, for example, adding a £10 price point to the campaign can often deliver unexpected results.
You’re never going to be able to collect Gift Aid from 100 per cent of your donors, but by focusing on the friction points within your campaign and having the right mechanics to recognise repeat donors it is possible to significantly increase the amount of Gift Aid that comes into your charity.