Skype begins direct carrier billing in Russia, US and Canada to follow

As data bundles become more prevalent, it's natural to see Skype as a thorn in the side of mobile operators' voice offerings. A new direct billing deal with carriers announced today, however, could prove that the two can play nice. While it's not a full embrace, it effectively means that operators could sell you Skype credit directly, and not be cut out of the loop completely. There are no details on what arrangements between operators and Skype will look like, but from the user's perspective, it's another welcome payment option. The service has been on the cards for some time now, with some operators expressing an interest for even longer. Skype tells us that the service is live today with an unnamed Russian operator, with promise of it coming to the US and Canada soon. As GigaOM points out, Mach -- who the VoIP provider is partnering with -- lists T-Mobile, Telus and Verizon Wireless among its client list. So, while nothing is confirmed, there's a heads-up over which operators might get the facility first.

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Skype Goes Live With MACH Direct Operator Billing

MACH enables new mobile payment option for Skype Credit in three markets

U.S. rollout connects with mobile operators through partnership with payvia

LUXEMBOURG--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MACH, the world leader in direct operator billing, today announced that Skype now supports a new mobile payment option for Skype Credit in Russia, and soon the U.S. and Canada, using its direct operator billing service. With this new payment option, Skype users can now purchase Skype Credit from their mobile devices through a browser-based transaction that is secure, seamless and convenient. They can pay for this transaction either as part of their monthly cell phone bill or using their mobile carrier's pre-paid account balance.

Using direct operator billing enables Skype to offer a vital alternative payment method to its users, allowing them to enjoy a frictionless user experience. This new payment option will reflect the same prices for Skype Credit as current payment methods. The rollout of direct operator billing in additional countries, and as a payment option for Skype users that are purchasing Skype Credit through a browser on their desktop, will continue through 2013, enabling Skype to create new revenue streams by attracting new users of Skype premium products.

MACH's partnership with payvia, a leading mobile and online payments company with direct agreements with the main U.S. mobile operators, connects the technology behind MACH's service, its Direct Billing Gateway, with U.S. mobile operators. It is also connected to the leading mobile operators in Canada and Russia, enabling the delivery of an operator billing service that dramatically improves user experience.

Jason Macklin, Director Billing and Payments, Skype Division - Microsoft, Skype, commented: "We are proud of our heritage in delivering a strong user experience and are pleased that our direct operator billing payment option is now live! As well as our existing users benefitting from this new payment option, we expect direct operator billing to attract new customers who are looking for more convenient ways to manage their spend. Since the announcement of our partnership with MACH in September last year, we have seen direct operator billing gather momentum in North America and Russia, and we are looking forward to rolling the solution out in additional markets in the near future."

Michael De Jongh, Global Head of Sales, Mobile Billing & Payments, MACH, said: With MACH's Direct Operator Billing service, Skype now has a flexible, secure and reliable billing solution with a range of benefits for its customers. Its users will be able to charge their Skype Credit to their mobile phone bill or pre-paid account balance, and enjoy the frictionless user experience gained from this payment method. We are very excited to continue working with Skype to roll this out in addtional countries."

Direct Operator Billing service for mobile applications, content and mobile internet services allows providers to charge subscribers for services direct to their mobile phone bill or pre-paid balance. This creates a significantly improved user-experience through the enhanced frictionless purchase process and delivers greatly enhanced transaction completion rates. By removing the need for cumbersome Premium SMS or credit card payments, it increases the likelihood of customers continuing through to purchase.