The Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) was updated on last week with an additional payment option that should make it even easier for customers to consume movies, TV shows and music along with games and add-on content for PlayStation devices. Prior to Thursday, customers could use their credit card, a prepaid card and PayPal as payment options. Now they can use their mobile device as well.
SEN customers normally add funds to their account through PlayStation Store on PS3, or Account Management at the Sony Entertainment Network website. While on the "Add Funds to wallet" screen, users can now choose "Use Mobile" as the (fourth) payment option, enter the mobile phone number, and then respond to an SMS sent by Sony to confirm the added funds. The charge will then appear on the user's next wireless carrier bill, or will be debited against a prepaid account.
"With an unprecedented amount of digital content now available across the network, and new and convenient ways to fund your account, this is another step to make it easier for you to get the latest games, movies, and more for your PS3, PS Vita, and PSP, all from PlayStation Store and Sony Entertainment Network online," the company states on the PlayStation Blog.
This "carrier billing" option is currently only available in the United States.
This payment option is ideal for SEN customers who would rather not store a credit card number in their account, and/or choose not to rely on PayPal as an alternative (which also stores banking information). Thus, by using this mobile method, users can verify each financial addition to their account via an SMS message. The move also seems to be Sony's answer to the carrier billing deal Google has with Verizon Wireless.
Sony launched a new Music Unlimited app for the iPhone and iPod Touch back in July, promising improved performance, offline playback and high quality audio streaming. The app is also available for Android devices on Google Play, directly competing with Google's own Unlimited Music subscription service. With mobile device billing, SEN customers can add funds to their account to possibly pay for the Sony Music Unlimited subscription. Meanwhile, Google is reportedly negotiating with Verizon to enable carrier billing for its streaming music subscription service.
Currently, SEN's mobile payment option only supports AT&T and T-Mobile, thus nuking any chances of charging the SEN music subscription service to a Verizon Wireless bill. That's likely because Verizon currently does not offer phones and tablets manufactured by Sony. We dug through the company's website for new and old products alike, and came up with absolutely nothing.
This surprise turn of events provoked a call to Verizon Wireless that in turn revealed there are currently no products listed and/or in stock using the "Sony," "Sony Ericsson" and "Xperia" filters in the company database. When questioned why, the Verizon rep told Tom's Hardware that he had no information to give. That said, don't expect SEN mobile billing from Verizon Wireless anytime soon, if at all.