Partnership selling telcos on a new billing system

KUALA LUMPUR: A newly launched billing system allows local telco companies to reward their customers in real time — something their current billing systems cannot do, claimed Fujitsu Asia Pte Ltd.

Fujitsu, the world third-largest systems integrator, has partnered with Canada-based Omniware Solutions Inc to push the Omnibill solution in South-East Asia markets.

It said a concept called “behavioural billing” enables the Omnibill solution to handle customer bills on the fly. “Especially, to reward the customers based on their usage patterns or choices,” said David Bowden, vice-president of strategic initiatives, applications and services for Fujitsu.

For example, a customer who purchased a certain Internet Protocol television (IPTV) movie could receive a reward of discounted mobile phone calls for the next eight hours, he said.

“Behavioural billing is similar to loyalty reward programmes which help retain existing customers and increase market share for the telcos,” said Bowden.

The telcos will also be able to influence customer behaviour, such as by offering more or better rewards during the low-usage periods of their cellular services.

“We are probably the first in the world to come up with this concept. Nobody else has done it, at least nothing that I have read about in the press and this is something I should know because I always monitor the market,” Bowden said.

Old vs. new

Most billing systems in the market today are of the consolidated or converged type, which charges users based on the service package that they have signed up for.

How this works is that the back-end CDR (customers detailed record) system records customer usage and sends this data to the billing system, which will charge the customers according to preset rules. “We called this electronic stapling,” said Bowden.

At the end of each month, the telco presents the total charge in a bill. Customers then get rewarded at the time.

He said Omnibill is quicker and more flexible; and can handle complex calculations for the billing of fixed line, prepaid and postpaid mobile services, IP-based services, broadband connectivity, digital content delivery, interconnected billing and settlements, as well as value-added services. Or combinations of these.

This means customers can get their rewards as soon as they qualify, he added.

The other attraction of the solution is that it does not require any coding to implement existing or new services.

“Therefore it can be deployed and maintained at dramatically reduced costs, which is especially important in the Asean marketplace,” Bowden said.

Omnibill can be deployed in one of two ways — as a complete replacement of a legacy billing system or rolled out as a billing pre-processor that sends summary records to the legacy system.

The second approach, said Bowden, avoids the headaches involved with the launching of new rewards offers while enabling the telco to retain investments in its legacy systems.

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