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UK premium rate market attracts global business

12 July 2012

The UK market for premium rate telephone services (PRS) is attracting business from across the world, show figures released by PhonepayPlus.

In its Annual Report 2011/12, PhonepayPlus, UK regulator of PRS, reveals figures for the first ever PRS industry-wide Registration Scheme. Out of almost 4,000 registered providers, 14% have headquarters located overseas, with providers based in 75 countries including Australia, Russia, China, India, Nigeria, Argentina and the USA.

The attractiveness of the UK PRS market for international providers and investment is underlined by research published in 2011 by PhonepayPlus that shows while the average global PRS revenue per capita (based on 20 bench-marked countries) was 4.57USD, in the UK it is 18.70USD. PhonepayPlus’ annual market review, Current & Future Market for PRS 2011, shows that some providers are capitalising on the ‘borderless’ reach of global sites, such as Facebook, by facilitating mobile payments across a range of international markets. In addition, many UK mobile aggregators are now part of international consortia. 

While an increasingly globalised and digitised mobile market place opens up new opportunities for business, consumers and the UK digital economy, it also poses new challenges for regulation that has to operate across borders. In December 2011, PhonepayPlus launched an investigation into the operation in the UK market of a particular premium rate malware that was active in 18 countries. The regulator subsequently took robust action to ensure that the malware could no longer operate through a premium rate mechanism and that those responsible for the fraud did not profit from UK consumers. 

With an increasingly globalised digital market place comes the increased potential for fraud that operates across borders and in a number of countries simultaneously. Acting to understand and pre-empt such activity, PhonepayPlus will lead discussion about regulation in international markets when it hosts a summit of international regulators in October 2012. 

Paul Whiteing, PhonepayPlus’ Chief Executive, commented:

"When we look at the map of PRS providers active in the UK market, we see a picture of a market that is increasingly global. However, this is a picture still in formation and the opportunities for the UK to lead the way in m-commerce and digital micropayments, such as PRS, are significant. To realise this potential, we need to ensure regulation remains fit for purpose, allowing business innovation to flourish while robustly protecting consumers. We need to do this with an eye, not just to the domestic market, but to a digital economy that is global and indifferent towards state borders." 

PhonepayPlus' Annual Report 2011/12 can be found by clicking here.



1. The global PRS revenue per capita figures come from research commissioned by PhonepayPlus, published in May 2011, Premium Rate Services: International Markets and Regulation. In April 2012, PhonepayPlus published Current & future market for PRS 2011, its annual review of the premium rate market. For all research published by PhonepayPlus please click here.

2. For more information, contact the PhonepayPlus Press Office on (020) 7940 7440 or email pressoffice@phonepayplus.org.uk