The Billing Hub Catalyst is creating a plug-and-play billing platform that enables cross-country integration of invoices generated by multiple vendors under complex billing models to enable CSPs to invoice for bundled offerings with greater ease, speed and accuracy.
How to simplify billing for multi-vendor network services
As network services become ever more complex, often involving bundled offerings spanning multiple vendors, so too does invoicing for them – a responsibility which typically falls to the CSP. When CSPs offer partner products to their B2B or B2C customers, these are generally treated as add-ons to the CSP’s core service, and invoiced through simple MRC or NRC (monthly- or non-recurring) billing methods. In only a very few instances are invoices handled by partner billing to the CSP – managed through custom batch integrations that are slow, hard to maintain and still cause billing errors. The vast majority of cases see CSPs setting a price and adding it to subscription costs.
This brings with it a range of limitations - first, and perhaps most fundamental, is that it places the operational and financial burden on the CSP to handle all the rating, taxing and invoicing overheads associated with sometimes complex packages. But beyond that, for the partner, it can mean limited sales through inability to offer tiered or otherwise optimized pricing structures through the CSP’s administrative infrastructure, and so for the end user it can result in poor buying experience through overpayment. Conversely however, underpayment can also pose an issue through partner and CSP going out of sync even on base pricing.
What is required, then – and what will only become more necessary as the telecommunications industry continues to look beyond connectivity – is a common means to simplify and automate settlements between CSPs and vendors. The Billing Hub Catalyst has been conceived to achieve precisely this with a plug-and-play billing platform that enables cross-country integration of invoices generated under complex billing models with usage ratings, tiered pricing models, SOW-based professional services billing, and cross-company discounting.
This standardized billing integration framework uses TM Forum’s Open APIs 678 and 688 to dynamically integrate one or more partner invoices with those of CSPs to provide a consolidated bill to the customer – enabling over the top discounts that can be applied to partner products from the CSP side in bundling scenarios, while partners can expose the full range of pricing models to the customer through the CSP, while eliminating the possibility of CSP and partner going out of sync on pricing.
Applications and wider value
This promises not only OpEx savings for CSPs by eliminating overheads from administrative complexity, but also improved customer satisfaction through reduced billing errors. For partners it means increased sales by closer matching of willingness to pay on the part of the customer with what the partner has to offer.
“CSPs will increasingly need to rely on partners to provide the right solutions to win in the new market enabled by 5G,” explains Ajith Lenin, Associate Fellow (Enterprise Architecture) at Verizon Communications. “This Catalyst reduces the complexities and issues in integrating with partners, Improving operational efficiency for both CSP and partners, agility in onboarding and offering new partner products, and improve customer experience.”
And for end customers that better experience means achieving the best value for the subscribed product, access to the full range of partner offerings, as well as more accurate and timely bills. More broadly, this could lead to enhanced market integration by helping vendors integrate easily with CSPs to find their market, while boosting CSP agility in bringing new solutions to market. To find out more about the project join us at DTW23 - Ignite in Copenhagen between 19-21 September 2023, or get in touch with the Catalyst team directly here.