What are micropayments?

Micropayments are low value payments for goods and services, typically under £10 per transaction. As the value of each transaction is low the security and authentification is less than Credit or Charge Card transactions. In the UK most people will be familiar with London Underground's Oyster cards & the Starbucks reward card. These are both micropayment platforms with low transaction value and clients making many individual transactions per month.

The mechanism for micropayments is more convenient for the customer, this is mainly due to the reduced security. In the case of Starbucks and London Underground a contactless card using RIFD is used and no PIN is required. Over time it is expected that micropayments will replace cash for low value transactions in the UK. 

What all micropayments have in common is, the point at which the service is enjoyed does not have a direct billing relationship with the client. Ie the individiual bus driver, Underground station or Starbucks shop does not directly take the money from the client. The financial details of the client are all stored in a more secure format and the transaction itself takes place many steps removed from the point at which the service is enjoyed.

What have telephone numbers got to do with Micropayments.

Telephone numbers are probably the un-sung heros of the micropayments world, telephone numbers that have an outpayment allow a service provide to receive a "micropayment" from almost anyone on the planet who has a telephone. Thats over 1 billion people with just a single micropayment platform.

Using BellPay gives you the freedom to market your product or service to over 1 billon people without the need of a direct billing relationship with any of them.

How does it work

In simple terms you tell us how much money you need to derive from each type of transaction, that can be anything from £0.01 up to £5.00. We also need to know where you are expecting most of your customers to come from. We will then provide you with a series of telephone numbers for each of the countries that you are interested in selling your service. You then build the correct numbers in to you Mobile Application, Advertising or Payment Gateway.

Customer safeguards

The most important factor in our platform is the customer. We will take the following steps to ensure that the customer is protected from excessive charges and misleading pricing:

  • Each service will have a maximum spend per customer. Default is £25 per month.
  • All advertising must carry pricing information.
  • Customer must receive SMS, email or in app confirmation at servcice commencment with pricing details
  • Customer must be made aware of cancellation proccess.
We will charge a £50 admin fee for each customer complaint that we handle, to cover the costs of admin but also to re-enforce the message that services must be clearly priced, not mislead the customer or be excessively priced.

Sign up process

The first step for new clients is to fill in one of our Know Your Client (KYC) forms and to submit your marketing plan, website details and proof of marketing spend. This should be accompanied by full documentation explaining how your service works along with a walk through of the customer experience. We will then issue you with a draft contract. If we do not feel that this is an appropriate use of our micropayment platform your service will not be authorised.

Verification and checking is a quick process and we can usually provide you with your draft contract within 48 hours of receiving your KYC and business plan. As soon as your signed contract is returned we will issue your live numbers. Finally before your service goes live you must ensure your services are compliant with all of the appropriate Telecoms legislation in the countries where you are going to promote your service..

If you are planning to use premium rate numbers in the UK you will be required to register with PhonePayPlus. You must also make sure that you announce call charges on all calls and clearly state it in any adverts.

If you are in any doubt about what is required to operate a fully compliant service then just ask. We have years of experience advising service providers about UK Telecoms legislation. We can also advise you of the legal requirements in all of the other countries where we will be providing numbers from.

If you need to change your service in any material way we will need to redo the aprovals and compliance on your service. Usually if you have a good history and the documentation you submit is correct permissions for additional services will be granted in 24 hours.

Before you go live

We will need to take a deposit from you of 25% of the anticipated monthly billing. This will be held for up to 3 months after your account is terminated with us. We hold this deposit in case any abuse is reported on the numbers that are supplied to you. We have a policy of direct enforcement against fraudulent use of our micropayments platform. If we suspect any numbers are not being used in accordance with our Terms & conditions we reserve the right to withhold payment. 

Sample Projects

VIdeo Clips. We have cleint that markets their service in to Africa. None of the customers have Credit cards, we use UK and Irish numbers for the micropayments. The service provides Vdieo clips that have been optimised for iPhone and Android screens.

Competition App: This client has a mobile app that offers cleints a chance to win concert tickets, flights & hotel accomodation using a lucky dip. Service uses various numbers from countries in Africa.

History of Trade

Since the dawn of man people have been trading goods with one another. Just a few 100 years ago we paid for what we needed by "bartering". 

Today we have BitCoins & surgically implanted RFID. Here are a few key milestones along the way.

Pre 9000 BC - Bartering and trading goods with each other.

6000BC - Livestock, the oldest form of currency

3000BCShekel meausrement of grain used in Mesopotamia

1200BC - Shell money. Used in China and Pacific/Indian Ocean

1000BC - Non Precisous Metal Coins used for cheap items

700BC - Precious Metal Coins 1st in used Turkey & Greece

118BC - Leather Money could be considered first banknotes

806 - Paper Money appears in China. not widely accepted

960 - First widely accepted Parper Money in China

1816 - Gold introduced in UK as standard value.

1900 - US introduces Gold Standard Act.

1913 - US Federal reserve created and Gold backed Banknotes introduced.

1920's -Charge cards introduced in stores and hotels.

1950 - Diners club launches1st card. Made from Cardboard.

1971 - US removes the gold standard and $ no longer backed by US gold reserves.

1994 - Online shopping begins. Piza hut sells "Peperoni piza with mushrooms and extra cheese"

1997 - Mobile Payments. CocaCola introduces Coke Machine that can take payment via SMS.