Deutsche Telekom, Paypal offer carrier billing for digital purchases

Mobile users will be able to pay for digital goods via their phone bill

Through a deal with PayPal, Deutsche Telekom is letting mobile users purchase digital goods and get billed on their regular mobile phone accounts.

Deutsche Telekom has a presence in 14 markets throughout Europe, with some 144 million mobile customers, and is working with PayPal to offer the mobile-bill service throughout Europe, the carrier said Tuesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Deutsche Telekom said subscribers will be able to buy digital merchandise such as ebooks, music and in-game content across digital merchant websites and mobile applications, and pay via their mobile bills.

In addition, carrier payments with PayPal require only that the consumer remember their mobile phone number, meaning there are no account numbers, log-ins, or passwords to forget, the carrier said.

The companies want to work to make it easy for merchants of digital goods who have not adopted carrier billing to offer this payment option to consumers across western, central and eastern Europe, Deutsche Telekom said.

"The role of the future telco is enabling the digital ecosystem," said Timotheus Hotttges, CEO Deutsche Telekom, at a panel discussion Tuesday. "Applications are being developed in smaller companies and infrastructure companies have to make these applications work in ecosystems," said. As an example, Hotttges said, "this opens up the possibilities for billing."

In its announcement, Deutsche Telekom noted that it is joining more than 250 carriers as part of PayPal's carrier payments network. In 2013, more than US$9 billion of digital goods payment volume went through PayPal, it said.

The companies did not detail financial arrangements of the deal, nor did they immediately say when the mobile billing option would begin to be available through online retailers.

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Marc Ferranti

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