Our mission at Boku is to make the mobile number the world’s most convenient and accessible way to pay, full stop. In order to deliver on that mission, we must be constantly innovating to bring carrier billing technology in line with the long-held advantages of traditional payment options. Today, we announced the release of one such innovation – “Phone-on-File”, the carrier billing world’s first cross-platform answer to the “card on file” technology that has allowed companies like Amazon and Apple amass hundreds of millions of stored credit cards and process billions in purchases. Phone-on-File brings two new ways for merchants to offer carrier billing to their customers: cross-platform Express Checkout, and subscription-based services.
For one-time purchases, Phone-on File is designed to give merchants who use carrier billing the same streamlined one-click checkout offered by services like Amazon, without the need for a credit card. The initial sign-up is completed through a one-time SMS authentication and all future purchases are completed in one click, bypassing a second authorization that is typically required for carrier billing transactions. Importantly, because the authorization is provided to the merchant, consumers can utilize the one-click checkout feature on any platform through which they purchase a merchant’s goods and/or services including desktop, mobile web, and mobile in-app. Boku has implemented Phone-on-File for one-time purchases with a select group of global merchants and the results have shown an average conversion uplift of 5% and a reduction in returning user billing failures by close to 50%.
For subscription purchases, Phone-on-File allows carrier billing to function like credit cards, whereby carrier billing can be accepted as a recurring payment option without the need for subsequent approvals during the subscription period. The technology gives merchants the ability to control the timing of the charge once the user has provided his/her standing authorization and to offer key subscription features such as free and discounted trial periods. It also allows carrier billing to be easily integrated into the merchant’s existing subscription engines.
The new Phone-on-File functionality is currently available in the UK, Germany, Italy and the United States with more markets to be made available in the coming months. If you would like to learn more, feel free to contact us at [email protected]
The team here at Boku is never far from any major event where we can meet up with our global network of carrier and merchant partners, trade stories and ideas, and meet new potential partners face to face. When it comes to the business of gaming, there are few events larger than the Games Developer Conference right in our home city of San Francisco. The Game Developers Conference (GDC), taking place March 2nd-6th, is the world’s largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event and attracts over 24,000 attendees to gather to exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry.
This year, the Boku team will not only be attending the conference, but will also be celebrating the addition of the mopay team to our family with a German-themed Happy Hour at Schroeder’s bar & restaurant. If you’d like to join us there, give us a shout at [email protected]
Also, it’s that time of year again when the entire mobile world descends on beautiful Barcelona for Mobile World Congress (MWC). This year, members of Boku BD and executive teams from around the globe will be on hand at the event taking place March 2nd-5th. We’re looking forward to being on the ground there talking payments over paella and would love to meet you, if you plan to join us in Spain.
If you are attending either MWC or GDC and would like to get together with the team, please email us at [email protected] Hope to see you there.
To facilitate trade between the east and the west in the 4th Century, Constantine the Great established the gold solidus as the standard of currency. This coin retained its status for about 1,000 years, In its most flourishing periods, the Byzantine state may have produced as many as several hundred thousand gold coins and a million or more copper coins each year. At that point, coinage became the standard for global trade.
Once again, the land of Constantinople may be re-inventing the world of financial liquidity. Carrier billing — paying for something with an extra charge on a mobile phone bill — has historically been limited to purchasing digital goods like video game credits or digital media. In Korea, Japan, Russia and Scandinavia, where carrier-billing fees are low enough that ecommerce, transportation, and ticketing merchants have adopted, the technology is more widely used. But to date, there have been few mass-market examples of carrier billing for offline, physical goods. That’s starting to change, and carriers and merchants in Turkey (along with those in the UK through Boku’s e-Money initiative) are among the first to make carrier-billed payments available for nearly any product.
Working together to drop fees:
Turkish mobile carriers once charged a 20%-30% fee for the use of billing. In some cases, that’s nearly 10 times what merchants pay in credit-card processing fees. As a result, brick-and-mortar merchants stayed away. Dropping the fees to a more credit-card-like 2%-3% was untenable to carriers. Yet they finally reached a deal.
How? The carriers, merchants, and local telco service provider 3pay worked together to find the benefits for the adoption of carrier billing. Partnerships — rather than profits — could create a better user experience, an increase in customer loyalty, and marketing promotional value for each party.
Merchants realized they could attract a younger customer base, offer a better user experience than credit cards and cash, and build brand affinity through a cool, new technology. Carriers wanted the brand affiliation with merchants but also a new revenue source for their networks. As voice and data sales decline, carrier billing offers another way to exploit carrier infrastructure and customer relationships. Both parties compromised on fees. The results have been remarkable to anyone who has worked in or followed the history of carrier billing.
The Revolution is Real – From Gas Stations to Pizza Hut:
Pizza Hut was the pioneer in accepting the new carrier billing fees. It implemented carrier billing to consumers ordering online, on the phone, and in the store. The online and mobile integration increased new paying users by nearly 10%. The conversion of customers who use carrier billing while calling in and order has exceeded even that. When a someone orders a pizza on his mobile, the call-center agent can simply ask the user if he would like to pay by phone. If the user accepts, he receives a text message and immediately replies ‘yes’ to accept the charge. There’s no credit card information to share. It also reduced risk of nonpayment for Pizza Hut — a problem it often encounters with students.
Turkcell and Shell launched the first use of carrier billing at a gas station so that users never have to get out of the car. First-time users must register their license plate and phone number at the Shell store. Then, after the attendant has pumped the gas, they enter the phone number at the register, and the user confirms the text payment. The customer never has to leave the car – imagine how convenient that is when the baby is in the back seat! A large marketing campaign attracted new customers to try the technology, but users returned because subsequent purchases were so easy. Shell and Turkcell also ran marketing promotions sending consumers text messages to lure them back to the same gas station. It worked. They came back again and again. In an industry that typically competes on price, this kind of single-station loyalty is almost unheard of.
The Future – Growth in Turkey and Beyond:
Carriers have achieved so much success they are now increasing spending limits for users and working on ways to further reduce their fees. This should entice even more merchants to sign on. Meanwhile, existing merchants are actively marketing their ability to accept these payments and winning new customers as a result. Turkey’s businesses took a big risk to adopt carrier billing. The reward has been so great, they are working to make it a standard payment method, just as they did with coinage.
It is this kind of cooperation between merchants, carriers, and carrier billing providers that will continue to change the way consumers look at their mobile phone numbers around the globe. Boku is already leading that charge across Europe with our e-Money nitiative that started in the UK with Vodafone, O2, and EE and that allows carrier billing to be used for the purchase of any type of good. As Turkey has shown, the opportunities for real world, carrier-based payments are limitless.
Today, Boku announced a new direct carrier billing partnership with 3 Hong Kong, one of Hong Kong’s leading mobile carriers and part of the 3 global network which provides mobile services to customers across Australia, Austria, Denmark, Macau, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
This new partnership continues Boku’s rapid expansion in Asia, which has included the opening of new offices in Asia over the past year to serve our growing list of merchant and carrier partners throughout the region. Hong Kong is a particularly attractive market for carrier billing, according to recent Nielsen research. As of early 2014, smartphone penetration in Hong Kong stood at over 87%, with more than 31% of the population owning more than one phone, and 28% of all mobile users participating in some form of m-commerce in the previous month.
Through the new partnership with Boku, 3 Hong Kong subscribers will be able to make purchases on their mobile devices using their mobile phone numbers. At checkout, users choose an item they want to purchase, enter their mobile numbers, and confirm the purchase via text. Their items are then billed to their mobile accounts.
This new partnership with 3 Hong Kong opens millions of new mobile consumers to our industry-leading roster of premium global merchant partners, including Facebook, Sony, Spotify, Electronic Arts, Valve, Wargaming, and many more.
Boku, a carrier billing-based mobile payments provider, today announced its partnership with 3 Hong Kong, the mobile division of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Ltd., a leading mobile operator in Hong Kong, according to a press release.
Through the new partnership with Boku, 3 Hong Kong subscribers will be able to make purchases on their mobile devices using their mobile phone numbers. At checkout, users choose an item they want to purchase, enter their mobile numbers and confirm the purchase via text. Their items are then billed to their mobile account.
After two years serving as Vice President of Mobile Engineering at American Express, one of Boku’s earliest employees has returned home. Mike Cahill, our former Vice President of Engineering, has accepted the role of Chief Technology Officer, reuniting with the team and technology he helped build at Boku during our founding years.
As our CEO, Jon Prideaux, said in our announcement, American Express must be as sorry to see Mike leave as we are happy to see him return. The experience Mike brings to the role of CTO is completely unmatched and we could not ask for a better leader to continue Boku’s growth and success over the past two years.
As CTO, Mike will be responsible for leading Boku’s global engineering and technical operations. He will operate out of Boku’s San Francisco headquarters, lead technical teams in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Romania and provide technical guidance to Boku employees across the globe.
The Payments Awards is one of the premiere awards in our industry, recognizing cards and payments excellence and technology innovation. Winning entries come from those companies, individuals and organizations who have implemented the most outstanding payments initiatives or projects during the past year. This year, Boku was selected as the recipient of the “Best Alternative Payments Project” in a category that also featured Barclaycard, Corethree, Vodafone, AcceptEmail, and Scanomat.
Boku has officially named mopay co-founders Ingo Lippert and Christian Hinrichs as the company’s new Chief Business Officer and Chief Financial Officer, respectively.
Mr. Lippert is the former CEO of mopay and brings more than 20 years of carrier billing, e-commerce, m-commerce, and management experience to his new role as CBO, a position formerly held by Boku CEO Jon Prideaux. In his role as CBO, Ingo will be responsible for leading Boku’s merchant and carrier focused sales and business development efforts across the globe.
As Boku’s new CFO, Mr. Hinrichs brings decades of experience in finance, accounting, and investor relations, forged through the co-founding and global growth of mopay. Prior to mopay, Christian worked as a Project Manager at Roland Berger & Partner, and has significant experience in the banking sector, working with companies such as Commerzbank, Dresdner Bank and Delbrück&Co, Privatbankiers.
Online merchants, game developers, and app stores have long understood the benefits of direct operator billing, and Boku’s network of hundreds of merchant partners continue to reap the benefits of new customer acquisition, incremental revenue growth, instant global reach, easy setup, and more – all driven by Boku technology and carrier partnerships.
That said, in recent months many physical retailers have been working with Boku to bring direct operator billing to the “real world”. Why? Take 3 minutes out of your day with James Patmore, Managing Director of EMEA for Boku, to learn more about all the advantages direct operator billing can brings to this growing class of mobile payment converts.
When we announced that Boku’s new e-Money initiative in Europe, we received a flood of inbound questions. What does this license mean for Boku? For the mobile payments industry? What new doors does the license open? How can merchants leverage e-Money?
To answer all of those questions and more, we sat down with James Patmore, Managing Director of EMEA for Boku, to create a video series speaking directly to the questions from merchants and carriers alike. We’ve included the first of these videos below.
James covers a number of topics, some of which are outlined below.
Bringing direct operator billing to physical goods
Some challenges with financial regulations
Benefits of operators outsourcing e-Money related challenges