Social networking drives growth as new Code of Practice is published

Figures published today in a report from PhonepayPlus, the UK regulator of premium rate services (PRS), reveal that in 2010 the UK premium rate services (PRS) market grew slightly, up by 0.8% from £810.1 million in 2009 to £816.2 million in 2010.

The market report identifies social networking and the mobile internet as potential growth areas for PRS, with an increase of over 400% in the market for virtual goods bought using PRS on social networking sites, up from £1.5 million in 2009 to £8.1 million in 2010.

The Current and Emerging Trends in the UK Premium Rate Services annual market report is released as PhonepayPlus prepares to publish the new Code of Practice for the PRS industry tomorrow.

The new Code of Practice moves from a rules-based to an outcomes-focused approach to the regulation of the PRS industry. The result of this outcomes-focused approach is a Code of Practice that is flexible and nimble enough to ensure effective regulation of a fast-moving, innovative industry, protecting the PRS market as it develops and helping to sustain and build consumer confidence.

The good news for consumer confidence is that only 3% of phone-paid service users cited “lack of trust of the companies offering these services” as the reason they weren’t interested in using additional types of phone-paid services. A decrease in income and disinterest in the services offered were the most common reasons for consumers not to use more services.

Regulation has also helped consumer confidence and market growth in the 087 number ranges, with 087 revenues up from £78.2 million when regulation began in 2009 to £96.7 million in 2010.

The importance of the new Code of Practice in helping to build consumer confidence is clear in consumers’ attitudes to PRS. The single most important factor that would increase trust in PRS is accurate pricing, cited by almost 74% of PRS users.

Paul Whiteing, PhonepayPlus’ Chief Executive, said: “Reading through this comprehensive report about the PRS market on the day we publish our new Code of Practice is a welcome reminder of how PhonepayPlus works as a regulator. We can see why effective, smart, integrated regulation that works with industry and not against it matters not just for business but – more than anything – for the consumer.

“The landscape for PRS is changing fast. We need regulation that allows industry to take full advantage of the opportunities that such innovation throws up while always keeping in full view the need to pre-empt and prevent consumer harm.

“I believe our new Code of Practice is exactly what we need in the years ahead to help us and industry meet the challenges and fulfil the opportunities outlined in this annual market report today.”

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