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AT&T Debuts Personalized Video Billing Service

December 5, 2012 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T Tuesday debuted a personalized video service to assist in explaining each new customer’s wireless bill in some detail.

The video service, to be rolled out nationwide in early 2013, uses computer animation and voice narration to explain a customer’s bill.

A 2-minute, 28-second video example posted on an AT&T blog site Tuesday explains the monthly bill for a customer named “Bryan” and explains the totals in each of the individual lines.

The personalized videos will be available to customers via email or by accessing a myAT&T online account, said AT&T’s John Donovan, vice president of technology and network operations.

The service “makes it easier than ever to understand your monthly charges,” Donovan said in the blog post.

He noted that video billing has already been used for U-verse Voice, TV and Internet customers and has been found to be helpful by 85% of those customers.

The U-verse video service has resulted in a “significant reduction in bill-related calls, since the video proactively addresses a customer’s typical questions,” Donovan said.

The wireless video billing has already been sent to several thousand customers in the Mountain Time Zone, Donovan said.

The concept for the video service came from AT&T Foundry, an innovation center in Ra’anana, Israel, after executives there learned of the concept from video services provider SundaySky during a “fast pitch” presentation, Donovan said.

An AT&T spokeswoman said that one of the most common requests from new customers is to know what they are being billed for.

The service leverages the exploding interest in watching online videos, she added. New customers get the video bills for two months, as do existing customers who change or upgrade a service.

Boku To Challenge PayPal Payments Dominance

February 23, 2012 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

PayPal, the online payments firm owned by eBay Inc, just got a new competitor in the race to develop a mobile payment service that can be used in physical stores.

Boku Inc, a big online mobile payments company supported by venture capital firms including Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark Capital, debuted a new service on Thursday that allows consumers to pay with any mobile phone anywhere credit cards are accepted.

Boku already provides carrier billing through about 230 wireless carriers, including AT&T Inc, Vodafone Group Plc and Verizon Communications Inc in more than 60 countries. This service lets people pay with their mobile number and get the transactions charged to their monthly phone bill.

Carrier billing is typically limited to smaller online purchases, either through personal computers or within mobile phone apps.

Boku’s new platform, called Boku Accounts, allows purchases in physical stores, a much bigger market. The service will be branded and offered by wireless carriers to customers, with Boku running the system in the background.

The move puts Boku in closer competition with PayPal, which is pushing its popular online payments service into physical stores. Google Inc is also trying to get its Google Wallet service into stores through a partnership with giants such as MasterCard Inc and Citigroup Inc.

PayPal’s in-store offering works with merchants’ existing point-of-sale terminals, but usually requires a software upgrade. Google Wallet works with phones that have Near-Field Communication, or NFC, chips in them and merchants need a terminal that supports this technology.

Boku’s service comes with a sticker that users can slap on the back of their mobile phones, turning any handset into an NFC-enabled device. It also comes with a payment card that can be swiped using existing retailer terminals, without a software upgrade, according to the company.

“We wanted this to be available in any store,” Ron Hirson, co-founder of Boku, said. “You don’t need a new phone or a new terminal.”