mastercard, apple push back on free trials and dodgy subscriptions

Mastercard, Apple, push back on free trials and dodgy subscriptions

The internet is littered with free trial offers. One thing these trials tend to have in common, is they ask the consumer for their credit card information. Once the trial ends, the consumer often forgets to cancel the subscription and is consequently automatically signed up for recurring billing.

The same can be said for offline commerce. Physical products, especially within the health and wellness industries, are often offered with supposedly no strings attached only to bait the user into a recurring payment scheme.

In all fairness, free trial offers can be highly beneficial to both consumers and business alike. However, in many cases, there is a lack of transparency that does more damage than good.

Unwanted payments cost money

Unwanted recurring payments are costly for both consumers and banks alike. The unsavoury practice, though generally accepted, often leads to payment disputes and costly chargebacks.

MasterCard recently announced a rule change that requires merchants to gain approval of cardholders at the of a trial period before billing can start. The move is aimed at protecting consumers as well as curbing costs at a time when shoppers have an ever-expanding range of banking alternatives to choose from.

No more mystery transactions

Moreover, merchants are now required to send a receipt after each payment. The receipt, specifying the merchant name and transaction details can be sent either by email or text message and inform the consumer of cancellation options. This way, consumers will always have control over how and where their money is spent.

Additionally, credit card statements are also required to include the merchant’s name a well as a web address or phone number. It’s a move that is sure to boost consumer confidence in both the payment method and the merchant’s business practices.

In 2018, Apple took a similar stance on deceptive free trials in apps. One requirement is users are now prompted to opt in for recurring subscriptions. Another is that the billable amount, referred to as the ‘true cost,’ must always be displayed prominently. Recently, Apple followed up by making it easier for iPhone users to manage their subscriptions from within the App Store.


Do you offer free trials for your products and services? Not sure whether you’re playing by the rules? Are you losing time and money as a result of disputes or chargebacks? Perhaps it’s time to speak with a payment consultant.


Alphacomm Solutions whitepaper: how automated payment reminder systems boost your credit management performance

Andrew Collins
New Business Development Manager

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mastercard, apple push back on free trials and dodgy subscriptions


Online bestellen en contant betalen is een stuk makkelijker geworden

Nieuwe samenwerking tussen Nederlandse Alphacomm Solutions en Duitse cash-payment gigant Barzahlen maakt online bestellen en contant betalen makkelijker voor miljoenen consumenten in Duitsland.

In Duitsland is contant geld nog altijd koning. De helft van de Duitse bevolking van 18 jaar en ouder beschikt niet over een eigen credit card en bijna 80% van alle retail aankopen wordt met cash betaald. Terwijl Duitse consumenten graag webwinkels bezoeken, vindt een deel het niet fijn als tijdens het checkout proces blijkt dat contant betalen niet mogelijk is.

Online bestellen, offline afrekenen met cash

Barzahlen is een betaalmethode die offline afrekenen van digitale facturen mogelijk maakt. Betalen met Barzahlen is ook heel eenvoudig. Na het kiezen om af te rekenen met Barzahlen ontvangt de klant een barcode via e-mail. Deze kan in alle partnerwinkels aan de kassa worden gescand waardoor het openstaande bedrag vervolgens met contant geld kan worden betaald.

Deze innovatieve betaalmethode kan worden gebruikt in verschillende sectoren, zoals telecom en gaming maar ook binnen de energiebranche, e-commerce en verzekeringen. Barzahlen wordt veel gebruikt voor de aankoop van fysieke goederen die digitaal zijn besteld, maar wordt door integratie van Alphacomm ook een betaalmethode voor de aankoop van digitale goederen.

De samenwerking tussen Barzahlen en Alphacomm Solutions is een aanwinst voor zowel de eindgebruiker als het Duitse bedrijfsleven. Met de integratie van Barzahlen binnen het reloads platform van Alphacomm Solutions, lopen bedrijven minder omzet mis. Klanten van Alphacomm kunnen voortaan een nieuwe klantengroep bereiken die voorheen naar contante kanalen gingen. Tevens kunnen miljoenen consumenten die liever cash gebruiken, nu makkelijker deelnemen aan e-commerce activiteiten.

Over Barzahlen en Alphacomm Solutions

Met een enorm cash-payment netwerk van meer dan 10.000 retail partner-winkels is Barzahlen de grootste onafhankelijke infrastructuur voor contante betalingen van Duitsland.

Alphacomm Solutions is expert op het gebied van online betaaloplossingen en fraude. Alphacomm Solutions werkt samen met bedrijven om de klantenbinding te vergroten en een hogere omzet te realiseren. Al sinds de oprichting in 1997 is Alphacomm een vertrouwde partner voor bedrijven die digitale goederen of diensten verkopen.

A convenience truth; how automation makes mobile top-up a more profitable experience

Pre-paid phones are very convenient. They bestow upon the customer a sense of control over their finances. Unfortunately, phone credit doesn’t last forever. For many people, being aware that they can always run out of credit leads to better awareness of their spending habits. On the flip side, topping up mobile phone credit isn’t exactly what you call fun. In fact, every time your customers run out of credit, you’re asking them to choose you all over again.

Topping up credit is boring

Common ways of topping up credit are rather tedious. Traditionally, one would have to leave the house and visit a supermarket or a local shop. For the lucky few, it’s a matter of crossing the street. For most people, it requires a lot more time.

Contrary to postpaid users, prepaid users constantly need to choose whether or not they want to continue. In a sense, the main benefit to the user, is also a potential cause of churn. Eventually, some might grow tired of topping up their phones and go a long time without credit. This begs the question. Isn’t there a better way? After all, whenever customers decide to reload their phone credit, they’re actually choosing you and renewing their commitment to your brand.

At Alphacomm Solutions, we’re always on the lookout for new and innovative top-up methods that take into account what users really want. This is where modern top-up channels and automation come into play. After all, the goal is to make topping up an easier and quicker experience for all prepaid users.

Topping up mobile credit should be as simple as possible

When it comes to topping up, innovation can be implemented in numerous ways. The very best solutions make topping up a simple activity. After all, what really matters is that reloading phone credit is easy for the customer. From a business perspective, implementing methods that are a natural fit for customers will also help maximize conversions.

1. Top-up via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or other chatbots.

Customers can now top-up their mobile phone credit via chatbot. Alphacomm chatbots can be integrated within WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as well as other platforms. WhatsApp and Facebook messenger are the two most popular messaging apps in the world. Billions of users are spending time on these apps in order to stay in touch with friends, loved ones and colleagues. Similarly, topping up credit via messaging platforms is as simple as starting a chat with an old friend. Via an automated question and answer system, users are able to recharge phone credit in a way that comes naturally and suits their preferences.

2. Pay Later

If you know who your loyal customers are, why not reward them by offering them the choice of postponing payment? This is useful in various cases. For example, what if you run out of credit, but need to wait another week for your salary? With Pay Later, you get the credit when you need it and pay for it when you’re able. This also works particularly well in the case of families. With Pay Later, kids can recharge their phone credit, while parents pay the bill. But wait….. Thankfully, we made sure that parents always need to validate these purchases before they are processed. This way parents can avoid unexpected bills.

3. Automatic top-up

By activating automatic top-up, phone credit can be recharged automatically. For example, whenever the available credit drops below a certain threshold, or similarly, at a recurring weekly or monthly date. On the surface, this sounds quite similar to postpaid. However, since no contract is involved, if a payment fails, the worst that happens is that the user will have to try again manually.

4. Paylinks

Another form of automation within the top-up industry is the automated paylink. This method takes advantage of the fact that in general, users always buy the same amount of credit for the same phone number and pay via the same payment method. In practice, users receive a paylink that has already been prepared with data from their frequent purchases. This means they no longer need to navigate a website to find the right product or fill in their personal information at checkout.

5. Top-up via dash button & voice assistants

What if all your customer had to do, was just press a button on the fridge? Dash buttons were first introduced by Amazon as a means to make shopping for repeat purchases like toothpaste and laundry detergent more convenient. A dash button is a small physical device can be stuck on any surface in the home. Simply tapping the button is enough to order a new batch of the product in question.

Better yet, a dash button can also be digital. Imagine an icon on the home screen of a phone or tablet that automatically redirects to a shopping cart.

Another promising channel is that of the voice assistants. Need credit? Just ask! In fact, you wouldn’t even have to say please. Voice assistants are quickly finding their way into homes all across America and Europe.

Convenience is key

The decision to top up is a critical moment in the customer life cycle. A moment that can be simplified or made redundant by the introduction of automation. In fact, automated top-up customers have a 20% longer customer lifetime and 10-20% higher average revenue per user (ARPU).

Just as is the case with their postpaid counterparts, prepaid users also expect and demand convenience. The benefits of automation aren’t limited to the users.

Users who opt for automated channels generally spend more and remain clients for a longer time. In fact, opting for services such as automatic top-up makes the leap to postpaid a lot less intimidating.

Sure, reloading phone credit might never become fun. Nonetheless, the liberating power of having choice and being in control can make the top-up process as painless as possible and perhaps one day, a pleasant experience.


Interested in driving changes in prepaid phone plans to your company? Contact sales to arrange a free consultation.

If you have any question about our reload services please let me know. I’ll be happy to answer!

About the author

Alper Altan – Reload Services
Business Development Manager

I’m Alper Altan, Business Development Manager at Alphacomm Solutions. I make sure that Alphacomm maximizes profit on existing customers as well as new business.

More about Alper »

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mastercard, apple push back on free trials and dodgy subscriptions

The rise of mobile commerce; the case for mobile dunning solutions

“Speak to me in a language I can hear. Humour me before I am to go.” The opening lines to the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 hit Thirty-Three is more than an artistic expression of adolescent angst. It’s also a basic principle of customer service.

At Alphacomm we aim to keep our finger on the pulse of society and develop solutions that meet both the expectations of consumers as well as the ever changing challenges of doing business. One such challenge is the rise of mobile commerce.

A recent report by Smart Money People further underlines this fact: in Britain, apps are now the preferred way of banking.

In the UK, apps are the preferred way of banking

In 2018, fewer people prefer to call or physically visit a local branch of their bank. Whereas in 2017, 45.2% of Brits preferred online banking, in 2018, a survey by Smart Money People showed that when it comes to banking, across the board, the only rising statistic is the consumer preference for banking apps. The report also goes on to conclude that 77.6% of British banking customers are now partial to online channels. This trend isn’t limited to Gen-Z and Millennials. Gen-Xers have also traded online banking for apps.

Why this matters?

The rapid shift from online banking to in-app banking isn’t an isolated case. Hindsight may be 20/20, but at present time, the writing is actually on the wall. Consumers prefer convenience and when it comes to mobile commerce, screen-size isn’t a deal breaker.

The same can be said for shopping. With predicted annual growth of 19% for the next five years, mobile commerce in the UK will be valued at an estimated £243.7 billion by 2022 as users warm to the idea of purchasing services and retail items with their mobile phone.

We’re doing more business with our phones and this trend is likely to continue. In 2018, Facebook rolled out WhatsApp payments in India, enabling users to send and receive money through the popular chat app. Further evidence that consumer expectations will continue to align with mobile commerce. It’s only a matter of time before WhatsApp payments are introduced in Europe and other parts of the world.

Are you speaking the same language as your customers?

While change is inevitable, each generation is moving at its own pace. Clients are anything but homogeneous. This makes the case for personalised contact ever more pressing. Are you speaking the same language as your customers? Are you contacting them via methods that come naturally to them? Or are you actually making it difficult for your clients to pay you on time by not implementing a multichannel approach?

As more people start using apps over websites, they will also purchase services and retail items within these apps. Similarly, traditional dunning methods soon will no longer suffice on their own, but instead should be enhanced by a multichannel approach that takes into consideration user demographics and technological preferences.

Food for thought

How are you coping with this ever expanding theatre of operations? In 2018, Alphacomm Solutions introduced WhatsApp reminders, interactive video and QR codes as means of simplifying dunning challenges by meeting consumers halfway.

After all, if your customers no longer care for paper money, traditional post, traditional banking or phone calls, it’s probably a good idea to speak to them in a language they understand.


Alphacomm Solutions whitepaper: how automated payment reminder systems boost your credit management performance

Andrew Collins
New Business Development Manager

Latest articles
mastercard, apple push back on free trials and dodgy subscriptions

Mobile phone users in Germany can now top-up their phones via WhatsApp

ROTTERDAM, December 2018 – Alphacomm Solutions and Alphacomm Digital Commerce team up to launch brand new WhatsApp top-up service In Germany. The service has been made available through the popular platform.

Prepaid phone cards have always been popular in Germany. In 2016, approximately 23 million Germans used a prepaid card. However, while prepaid phone cards allow for freedom and financial control, topping up often meant visiting a store or memorising a dedicated phone number. In recent times, this has gotten easier, but it has never been as convenient as with the introduction of top-ups via WhatsApp.

WhatsApp top-ups on

Payment experts at Alphacomm Solutions recently teamed up with Alphacomm’s Digital Commerce division in the launch of a brand new feature on; one of the most popular mobile phone top-up websites in Germany. Mobile phone users all across Germany can now top-up their phones via WhatsApp by simply engaging with the chatbot.

How it works?

The mobile phone customer can enter the chat via a widget on the website. The conversation is easily initiated by either typing ‘Aufladen’ or ‘Hello’. As the conversation proceeds, the bot presents the user with a list of available prepaid providers, asks the amount (in euros) the user wants to top-up with and eventually provides the user with a link to the payment method of choice. After the payment has been verified, a confirmation follows and the credit is quickly added to the account.

All transactions on the platform are secure thanks to the integration of Alphacomm Solutions’ payment systems and anti-fraud measures.

At present time, the service only covers direct top-ups, with support for third-party prepaid credit providers slated for 2019. Participating providers are Base, Callmobile, Congstar, E-Plus, Fyve, MTV Mobile, Netzclub, O2, Ortel Mobile, Otelo, RTLMobile, Simguthaben, Telekom, Vodafone and Vybemobile.


Alphacomm is a trusted global partner in all reminder dunning and payment challenges. Alphacomm was founded in 1997 by CEO Huub Sparnaay on the promise of securing revenue for companies around the world. Currently, Alphacomm is striving to become the world number one in securing payments by the year 2025. Alphacomm is based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.