Google is reportedly in discussions with India’s large mobile operator, Bharti Airtel, to work out a deal on carrier billing, which allows customers to pay for digital goods directly through their mobile operator.
The Economic Times reported today that the two companies are discussing an appropriate revenue share and quoted a source as saying “Google was asking for as much as 90 per cent of revenue”.
An agreement with Airtel, the fourth-largest operator in the world with 287 million connections, would be a huge boost for Google’s e-commerce business as it looks to expand in the country of 1.3 billion.
Carrier billing simplifies mobile payments and would open digital purchase like apps and e-books to the vast majority of Indian consumers who don’t have credit cards (penetration of credit cards is estimated at about 2 per cent).
Google now has carrier billing arrangements with 11 operators is Asia, but the Airtel tie-up would be its first in a developing market and would likely have a much bigger impact than in markets like Singapore, Japan and South Korea, where people have many payment options.
Airtel has 12.5 million 3G connections and 200,000 LTE connections, according to the latest figures from GSMA Intelligence.