Handset maker Microsoft Devices has partnered with Idea Cellular to help subscribers of the telecom services firm pay for apps as part of monthly bills.
Under the partnership, Idea users will be able to purchase premium apps and games from the Windows Store on Microsoft Lumia as well as other Windows-based smartphones and pay for them through integrated billing. The amount will be either added to the subscriber's monthly bill or deducted from the prepaid balance, depending on the plan.
"The smartphone market in India is poised to grow over 70% this fiscal and the app ecosystem is also booming. However, multiple factors like low credit card penetration, monetisation models and preference for free apps have restricted the growth. Our partnership with Idea is a step in that direction," Nokia India Sales (a Microsoft Mobile Oy subsidiary) Director Operator Relations Nikhil Mathur told reporters here.
Consumers will be able to purchase apps worth Rs. 300 at any given time and there will be a two-step authorisation process to ensure security of the transaction, he added.
"Idea Cellular is become the first operator in India to offer integrated operator billing on the Windows Store. We are in discussions with other operators as well. It will help customers who don't have credit cards or are not comfortable using them for online transactions," he said.
India is estimated to have about 19 million credit card users.
The Windows Store, which competes with Google's Play Store and Apple's App store besides other smaller platforms, currently offers over 550,000 apps and has seen over 8 billion cumulative downloads to date globally.
"Operator billing helps developers increase revenues and we have witnessed an increase of 8X per month for total paid transactions in emerging markets and 3X in developed markets," Mathur said.
Globally, it offers 81 mobile operator billing connections in 46 markets with carriers representing 2.5 billion total subscribers.
"App downloads in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 75-80% to about 9 billion from 1.56 billion in 2012. This development eases a consumer's access to premium apps on Windows Store through a convenient purchase process.
"We are happy to be the first operator to partner with Microsoft for Windows Store and offer our consumers the ease to download a range of local and global applications without worrying about the mode of payment," Idea Cellular Chief Marketing Officer Sashi Shankar said.
Idea Cellular has 147.95 million subscribers (as on November 2014 according to telecom regulator TRAI, of which about 34 million are data users.