Airtel, Google might bring carrier billing to Google Play in India

According to the report from Economic times, the tech giant Google and one of the largest telecom operator in India Airtel, are currently holding discussions to bring carrier billing support to Google play paid apps and games. If everything goes right, people in India would soon be able to make purchases on Google play store for their favorite apps and games. The purchase amount would be reflected back in customer’s account which a customer would need to pay at the time of paying bills.

India is a country which has got millions of smartphone users. What’s interesting is the fact that these numbers are increasing exponentially each year. Considering these huge numbers, one can easily predict the growth that paid apps and games can bring to Google. With the unavailability of credit cards to make purchase, people have got no option to make the purchase. If carrier billing is about to come true, Google would certainly make good number of profits.


According to the sources from Economic times, two people who are aware of the talks have explicitly mentioned that two companies have already reached consensus on various issues. There is however one issue that is still the topic of discussion i.e., revenue sharing model. It has come to our notice Google is pushing for 90% share in the revenue generated from this deal whereas Airtel isn’t happy with that. The company wants a bigger share out of the revenue generated. Traditionally, operators have been taking 50% of revenues from purchases. Lately, there have been changes in this model to attract more number of developers and content creators. Vodafone, recently changed its revenue sharing model to 70:30 to favor content creators.

If both companies join hands to bring carrier billing in India, Google would be able to sell apps and games without having to collect banking or credit card details. Additionally, Airtel already has 40 million data subscribers in India, out of which 12.5 million are using 3G. In contrast, the current credit card penetration stands at just 2% which is comparatively very low.

Sundar Lakshmanan, co-founder of the ideophone labs quoted –

Earlier, operators didn’t realize potentials of such services and didn’t know how to interact with developers. But, that has changed over the period and they are now hiring people with developer relations experience. This is definitely a positive to start with.

If Google and Airtel teams up, it can play a significant role in solving payment related problems.

Currently, Google offers carrier billing in 26 countries which includes US, UK and Singapore. Google’s digital goods and apps business is expected to reach $5 billion revenues by the end of 2017.

So, the bottom line here is the revenue model that these two companies will agree upon. Well, I sincerely hope that this deal goes really well because the earlier attempts with Uninor to bring carrier billing didn’t see a day of light. The potential here is huge. All it needs is a right push.

Earlier, operators did not realise the potential of such services and did not know how to have interactions with developers. But they have been hiring people with developer relations experience and that’s a positive sign,

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