Skype users in Russia can now buy additional credit for making calls worldwide using their mobile phone, thanks to a direct operator billing service being offered by Mach.

Users can now buy Skype Credit at any time through a browser-based transaction which the firm describes as “secure, seamless and convenient.” The credit is then billed to the user as part of their monthly bill, if they’re on a contract, or instantly if they have a pre-paid account with their carrier.

The service will be launched in the U.S. and Canada “soon”, and offer the exact same prices as any other Skype Credit payment methods, such as the Auto-Recharge feature for credit or debit cards found on the Skype website.

The roll out is a significant step towards challenging the conventional method of making phone calls. If users can top up their Skype Credit on the go, it means that it’s possible to make calls to any other telephone number – landline or mobile – without giving a dime to the operator. Of course, due to the nature of Skype the user still needs a stable Internet connection – however, provided the pricing is right, Microsoft’s voice over IP service could be a game-changer for both contract and pay-as-you-go customers.

Along with text-based messenger apps that rely on Internet connectivity, such as LineFacebook Messenger and WhatsApp, users are increasingly moving away from the traditional method of sending texts and making phone calls.

Mach is a provider of cloud-based, managed communications services for monetizing mobile data, and also simplifies the way that networks work together and protect revenues independently. Through a partnership with payvia – a mobile and online payments company – Mach has been able to connect its direct billing gateway with U.S. mobile operators, completing the final link to get the new payment option up and running.

The firm already has links with leading mobile operators in Canada and Russia, which is why they’ve been chosen as the first regions to receive the new payment method.

In a press release issued today, Skype said direct operator billing would be launched in additional countries throughout the year, and also added as a payment option for Skype users purchasing credit through a browser on their desktop PC.

Carrier billing via Mach was announced for Skype last September, following an existing deal with Microsoft that allowed them to provide a similar service for apps in the Windows Marketplace.

Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images