Today Boku is announcing a new office in Singapore to further expand their footprint in Asia, one of the fastest growing regions for carrier billing. Max Lehmann, Boku VP of Business Development Asia, will head up the office which will be responsible for all of Boku’s business operations in the Asia Pacific region. This is Boku’s fifth office in Asia, which already included offices in Tokyo, Taipei City, Beijing and Mumbai. The new Singapore office provides a strategic advantage for Boku, as it’s centrally located and long considered the business hub for all Asian Pacific markets.
Global carrier billing revenue is expected to reach $25 billion by 2020, with Asia being the most significant driver, contributing to over 50% of overall revenue (Ovum, 2015). Boku has recently seen tremendous growth in emerging markets in Asia, as well as in developed Asian markets like Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. This, coupled with many major app stores and subscription services all recently adopting carrier billing as a mobile payment method and Boku’s partnerships with premier Asian carriers means continued business opportunities in these markets for the foreseeable future.
If merchants would like to hear more details, please reach out to us at [email protected].
Today Boku is announcing the expansion of carrier billing for streaming music lovers with key carrier partnerships in Germany. Now every major carrier in Germany is allowing their subscribers to gain access to Spotify Premium and set up recurring payments using only their mobile number. With this deal, Spotify now offers customers in Germany a carrier billing option for digital their music purchases.
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.
Boku’s Managing Director of EMEA, James Patmore, sat down with Mobile Entertainment to discuss operator billing’s past, present, and future. James had a chance to take stock of where we are as a business, the evolution of mobile payments and how the growth and maturation of this payment medium has affected consumers, merchants and carriers.
The article points out that it was operator billing that launched the whole mobile content business in the first place with ringtones paving the way to what is now a multi billion dollar business. Clunky old text messages have been replaced by direct operator billing where merchants are able to connect directly into the carriers’ payment platforms meaning they can charge any amount they like, set up recurring payments, handle refunds, itemize receipts and the like.
As James points out during the interview:
We’re in a market with 4bn addressable customers and we’re operating in a space where payment meets online and mobile. These are huge markets, so there’s massive potential.
ME sat down with James to understand how Boku helped make this all possible. You can read the full article here. If you have questions about how to become a Boku merchant and leverage operator billing in your business, please contact us here.
Boku’s longtime Vice President of Business Development Kurt Davis will now be spending his time in Tokyo as Managing Director of Asia. Working from Boku’s base in Asia, Kurt will continue to work on prospective global partnerships. While in Asia, Kurt will be focused on growing our Far East team and bringing our global merchants to Asia, working with local merchants and putting together new deals.
The Asia team includes Yoda Hiroshi and Horie Mamoru in Japan, Jeff Wu and Siyuan Su in China, Gerry Vanholsteyn and Elvin Tan in Singapore, Roy Chapin in Thailand and Simon Jones in Australia. We expect these teams to grow as we partner with more and more merchants and carriers in the region. Kurt will be directing the team from our Shibuya offices in the center of it all. This isn’t Kurt’s first foray into Asia. For 6 years, he lived in Japan, Hong Kong and Shanghai and speaks enough Mandarin and Japanese to almost fit in with the locals.
The expansion of Kurt’s role into Asia is another major step in Boku’s continued push into Asia. Building on our recent partner deal with SingTel and Qubecell acquisition, Boku continues to invest in Asia.
On Friday at exactly 11:50am EST, CNBC got an education on the future of powering payments through mobile technology. Squawk host Carl Quintanilla interviewed Boku’s Chief Business Officer Jon Prideaux live via satellite from London. In addition to mentioning how the Boku Payments Platform works and calling attention to top partners, the two discussed why consumers prefer to use Boku (spoiler alert: ease and convenience).
The interview concluded with Jon mapping out where mobile payments is headed and even suggested that one day, CNBC viewers could be using Boku to pay for CNBC content. Check out the interview for yourself below and many thanks to the CNBC team for allowing us the opportunity to provide our perspective on the future of payments.
Boku works with local merchants around the world so it’s important that we be accountable to consumers. That’s why since 2010 we’ve been a supporter and Accredited Business of the Better Business Bureau. Boku has maintained an A+ rating with the BBB and as a result, was featured in a video highlighting businesses that are committed to the BBB Standards of Trust. If you are unfamiliar with the BBB Standards of Trust, they require that companies:
Tell the Truth
The BBB video was disseminated across 25 television networks including AMC, TNT, CNN and OWN. So, when someone asks you, “What do Oprah, Don Draper and Wolf Blitzer have in common?” Answer: Nothing, except that their audiences now know that Boku’s in the BBB trust tree.
Thanks to the BBB and the team at Boku who holds our feet to the fire and makes sure we continue to fight for consumers.
Not to be outdone by the Wine Club, Ace Ellett spearheaded the Boku Beer Launch.
That’s right…Boku beer is here! Our hero, the “BEER DELIVERY GUY” (easily recognized in the wild by the huge upper case orange lettering on a black jacket), arrived last week with a surprise for the team. (more…)
Boku was recently featured on Sky News, the 24-hour British and international satellite television news station. For non-Brits and those unfamiliar with the station, Sky News places emphasis on rolling news, including the latest breaking news. The piece features an interview with President of Boku, Ron Hirson, and Chairman of First Tuesday UK, Christer Holloman, as part of a series called ‘Tech Talk in Silicon Valley.’ (more…)