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How popular is payment by cell phone bill in Austria?

Pay simply by cell phone bill is popular with users in Austria

Paying by cell phone bill is popular!

Since the launch of the word-picture brand "Pay by cell phone bill" in July 2021, the popularity of buying digital products and paying by cell phone bill has been growing. Regardless of whether the products are consumed via TV, desktop or even directly via smartphone. Without a doubt, paying by cell phone bill is probably the easiest payment method in Austria. A cell phone contract is all that is needed, and every private customer can pay immediately at the respective points of acceptance.

But there are still hurdles that inhibit the use of the payment method in Austria. How these hurdles can be overcome and where they lie is what we want to explore step by step below.

Online payment with the confidence of Austrian mobile operators

Payment for a product represents the final hurdle of a purchase. Trust in the provider and ultimately in the payment method is a key success factor here. We know it from our own experience: Once a purchase decision has been made and payment is fast, secure and uncomplicated, the payment process no longer represents a hurdle when completing the purchase. Many of the common online payment methods have their origins in e-commerce. But just as providers increasingly migrated to the Internet back then, sales outlets are now shifting to cell phones. Exactly where the Austrian mobile operators are at home and have created the framework for the purchase of digital products.

For years, mobile operators have accompanied their customers and are perceived as the point of contact for a wide range of products. No other product is closer to the customer than the cell phone. For more than 70% of all Austrians, the smartphone is indispensable. Only 7.6% feel it is dispensable.(Source Statista: Study on the dispensability of cell phones).

The cell phone is a constant companion

Packaged in a rate plan, mobile operators offer their customers a wide range of services. The cell phone has become a constant companion in our everyday lives. This is exactly where the mobile network operators come in with payments by cell phone bill. Like a Swiss knife, the mobile communications contract should be perceived by the customer and thus enable a variety of payments in everyday life. But you won't be able to chop down a tree with a Swiss Army knife, and you won't be able to make large purchases by paying your cell phone bill. However, with amounts of up to 50 euros per purchase (in the Agents model beyond that), numerous everyday purchases can be paid for easily and simply. More than 80% of individual purchases by paying by cell phone bill are under EUR 11. Average spending per user is between 18 and 25 euros per month. With a monthly limit of 300 euros per user, all everyday products and services are covered for most people. In fact, Pay by Mobile Bill is a convenient way for our mobile customers to make their everyday purchases by cell phone.

Awareness of "pay by cell phone bill" is on the rise among mobile customers!

A1 Telekom Austria AG wanted to know. Two years after the introduction of the Wort Bild brand, A1 added numbers by cell phone bill to its mobile voice survey. The results were surprisingly positive. Despite the short market presence, already knew 55% of those surveyed, the payment method "pay by cell phone bill".

Number mobile phone bill in Austria - an overview

For download please here click.

How do providers handle payments by cell phone bill?

It is interesting to note that international companies are increasingly opting for this payment method with the aim of driving growth in Austria and reaching new target groups. The approach of such companies is usually very analytical and pragmatic. At the beginning, they are always supported by A/B testing in order to obtain key figures about the profitability.

Austrian providers, on the other hand, seem to be rather conservative or, in contrast to Google, Apple and others, are not yet aware that paying by cell phone bill can open up new and, above all, loyal target groups in real terms. It is understandable that there will always be fixed starters in a payment mix. For the most part, however, the same target groups are always served in payment. In the end, a credit card is behind the payment method or the amount is booked directly from the account in a timely manner. The prerequisite for this is the possession of a credit card or a funded account.

How is paying by mobile bill different from other payment methods?

With so-called wallets (digital wallets) such as PayPal or Blue Code, which have their justification throughout and tend to focus on buyer protection or loyalty programs, the amounts are also debited via account debit or credit card in the end. Whether a digital wallet from Austria or the American environment performs better or not will often be seen case by case. Usually, the costs incurred are what count in the end, and they have to be in a reasonable ratio. For various reasons, some providers suddenly drop such a payment method from their offer. Digital wallets have thus become an interchangeable instrument. Paying by cell phone bill is positioned in a somewhat more differentiated way. Every private mobile customer of A1, Drei and Magenta can use the payment method immediately without extra costs, without an app, without registration, without a credit card, without an account, without an expiration date. This is because it is not just a payment method, but a complete package from a mobile network operator that accompanies customers with services in their everyday lives. Through targeted information campaigns, no other payment method so actively informs your customers where they can use pay by cell phone bill.

What do mobile customers want?

Bereits über 700.000 Österreicherinnen und Österreicher haben im Jahr 2022 Zahlen per Handrechnung genutzt. Im Jahr 2023 wird diese Zahl weit überschritten werden. Vor allem bei der jüngeren Generation zwischen 15 und 29 Jahren ist diese Bezahlmethode sehr beliebt. Aus der A1-Umfrage geht hervor, dass sich in Summe mehr als 80% der Mobilfunkkunden die Bezahlung auch im Bereich der Mobilität wünschen, wie zum Beispiel im Personenverkehr, bei e-scootern und bei Taxis. Überraschend war auch das Ergebnis bei den Food-Produkten, wie Getränke, Snackautomaten oder Lieferdienste. In Summe sehen mehr als 70%darin Ihre Anwendung. Ernüchternd jedoch sind Mikroversicherungen ausgefallen. Nur 13% der Mobilfunkkunden sehen die Bezahlmethode bei Versicherungen. Es scheint, dass die Mobilfunker bereits den Markt mit Ihren Versicherungs-Produkten zielgerichtet adressiert haben.

The survey confirmed this: Mobile customers want to pay for products and services used in everyday life via their cell phone bill.

How do you create inclusion of all social groups with one payment method?

Obtaining a mobile rate is by no means associated with such hurdles as with other means of payment. By their very nature, creditworthiness standards vary. It's just that not everyone has the necessary credit rating to obtain a credit card or wants to bear the additional costs. The buy now and pay later principle is well known with credit cards and has already given some a welcome grace period. The principle also exists for paying by cell phone bill, because payment is not due until the next cell phone bill. The difference is that it also includes people with lower incomes. Even if one or the other feels like a lucky credit card owner, one must be aware of the fact that more than 61% of Austrians have an annual gross income of less than 25,000 euros (Income distribution Austria). The inclusion of this target group is therefore only possible with payment by cell phone bill!

Our data is sacred to us

For typical Austrians, personal data is a sanctuary. Although all operating companies are subject to the same legal basis, there are emotional reservations about some payment methods. It is not uncommon to hear people say, "I certainly won't give my credit card data to that company. This emotional reservation is removed in advance when paying by cell phone bill. Only the cell phone number is needed to authorize the payment. No full name, no security code, no expiration date of a card or even a mail address is required. Especially for small amounts, the inhibition threshold for processing a payment rises. In the online study commissioned by A1, only 6% of people who use payment by cell phone bill rate this payment method as questionable. (Source: Marketmind online survey 05/2023 commissioned by A1 Telekom Austria AG).


Paying by cell phone bill is not yet as widespread as mobile customers would like. Despite increasing user numbers and popularity, it does not yet seem to have fully penetrated Austrian retailers. This is a weak point that is probably due to a conservative attitude on the part of our domestic companies or institutions. Here, I miss a bit of the spirit of discovery that is commonplace for many international companies.

Contribution by:

Thomas Prussenowsky

Product Manager at A1


RA Dr. Bernd Fletzberger, PFR Attorneys at Law

Legal basis for "Zahlenperhandyrechnung"

"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.

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