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Legal basis for "Zahlenperhandyrechnung"

RA Dr. Bernd Fletzberger, PFR Attorneys at Law

by RA Dr. Bernd Fletzberger, PFR Attorneys at Law

"Zahlenperhandyrechnung" is also known in technical jargon as Direct Carrier Billing (DCB), i.e. the direct billing of payment transactions via the mobile phone operator. DCB is a practical mobile payment option that does not require the disclosure of bank or credit card data.

Zahlenperhandyrechnung or DCB is currently used primarily for the billing of digital content, such as apps, music or features for online games. However, there are also possibilities to use DCB for the payment of physical goods, e.g. snacks at vending machines. In this case, the payment amount is charged to the mobile phone bill. The payment is finally made together with the payment of the mobile phone bill, usually by way of a SEPA direct debit via the user's house bank.

In principle, carrier billing is a payment service. Such transactions may only be offered by a company that holds a corresponding licence from the Financial Market Authority (FMA) or a corresponding licence from another competent EEA supervisory authority. Entities authorised to provide payment services are credit institutions, e-money institutions and payment institutions.

However, there is one important exception to the concession requirement. This applies to the billing of digital content and voice services, regardless of the device on which they are used. Furthermore, the exceptions allow donations (e.g. "donation SMS") and tickets to be billed via the mobile phone bill if the payment is made via an electronic device in each case. For example, electronic tickets for passenger transportation (e.g., subway, train or airline tickets), parking (e.g., in parking garages) and admission to events (e.g., concerts) can be paid via the mobile phone bill. The aim was to take account of the advance of digitalisation and ensure that people can order, pay for, receive and validate electronic tickets from anywhere and at any time via their mobile phone.  

It should be noted that mobile operators may only apply the exception if a single payment does not exceed € 50 and the sum of all monthly payments of a user does not exceed € 300.

However, for the settlement of payment transactions above and beyond this, as well as for the payment of physical goods via the mobile phone bill, a mobile network operator requires a corresponding payment service licence. However, mobile operators have the option to act as payment agents of another licensed payment institution. This allows mobile operators to process such payments for physical goods as well as digital goods above the aforementioned thresholds via the mobile phone bill in the name and for the account of the respective payment institution.

From a legal point of view, this results in a wide range of applications for the Zahlenperhandyrechnung. It is a very convenient alternative to other payment methods without the need for credit card details or online bank account access. From a merchant's point of view, the wide reach is also worth highlighting, as mobile phones are much more widespread among the population than credit cards, for example.

About PFR Attorneys at Law

PFR Rechtsanwälte is a leading boutique law firm for banking and capital markets law, with a special focus on payments law. Clients include banks, insurance companies, payment and e-money institutions, telecom companies, trading companies, software companies and FinTechs. Partner Dr. Bernd Fletzberger advises international and national clients in particular on all payment issues, such as concession proceedings, product development or the establishment of legally compliant processes in the area of money laundering prevention and the drafting of corresponding contracts and general terms and conditions. Bernd Fletzberger has many years of experience in financial markets law and is recommended by international lawyer rankings.

Contact: Dr. Bernd Fletzberger
Tel: +43 1 8770454


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