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(Update: now official) India to get Google Play Store carrier billing

Since many Indian mobile users don't have debit or credit cards, Idea Cellular is partnering with the Google Play Store to put transactions on your bill.

Published onMay 5, 2016


Update, May 5: Google India confirmed in a blog post the availability of carrier billing for customers of Idea Cellular. Users will be able to buy apps, games, and books from the Indian Play store and pay with Idea credit. Any purchases will be labeled as “Google Play purchases” and both pre-paid and post-paid customers can join in the fun.

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Original post, May 3: In the west, paying per purchase for Google Play Store transactions feels very fluid and natural. However, it’s a different fiscal landscape in India. There are over 1 billion mobile phone users in the nation, but when you stack that up against the 25 million active credit cards and 645 million debit cards, suddenly the digital transaction dilemma becomes clear. Google has previously tried to breathe life into the Play Store by distributing gift cards, but this has seen limited success. This week Idea Cellular, India’s third largest carrier, is partnering with Google to make carrier-billed Google Play Store transactions a reality.

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This setup will make app and in-app purchases instantly available to millions of users. The arrangement works for both prepaid and postpaid accounts. On prepaid accounts, transactions will be checked against the user’s available balance and deducted. Postpayers will see their Google Play Store transactions appear on their bill at the end of each cycle. Idea is already rolling out this functionality to its users, and subscribers should expect to have this option at their fingertips sometime this week.

This isn’t the first instance of Idea using carrier billing for digital transactions. The company previously partnered with Microsoft in 2014 to make this functionality accessible in the Windows Phone Store. It’s expected that Google will be interested in expanding carrier-billed transactions to other Indian carriers in the future.

What are your thoughts regarding carrier-billed transactions? Would you like to simply pony up for your digital purchases at the end of the month, or do you prefer paying for each item as you buy them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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