There is a familiar ritual at Boku that takes place before the start of every month. The network operations center in Mumbai begins coordinating with technical staff in the US and Europe to run through its checklist: System response times? Good. Transaction error rates? Good. Hardware utilization? Good. This routine continues until every major component across Boku’s primary and secondary data centre is confirmed to be in good shape. While nobody expects a failover to happen, the second site is there just in case it did and if there was ever a time to be extra cautious, this would be it: the first 24 hours of a new month, immediately after the clock strikes midnight… in Japan.
Meanwhile 7,000km away, Hiroshi is at home playing Monster Strike on his iPhone. Whilst it is past his usual bedtime, Hiroshi like so many other Japanese gamers has chosen to stay up late because come midnight, mobile games like Monster Strike will be releasing several highly-coveted characters, weapons, and armors to the public – sometimes at a discount but almost always with limited availability. And as soon as those special items are released, a tidal wave of payment requests come flooding in fast and furious. What does that look like? On the first day of the month, Japan alone will push through 10 times the number of payments than the rest of the world combined and more than half of these payments will be initiated within the first 15 minutes.
It’s not unusual to expect payment volumes to spike on famous shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US or Chinese New Year and Singles Day in China, but few know or understand why Japanese game publishers choose the start of every month to sell or promote their best in-game items. The answer has to do with carrier billing. Japanese mobile operators restart their billing cycle at the start of each month giving each of their subscribers a fresh new bill to load mobile charges onto. Given the intense competition for game revenues, publishers will try and entice as many gamers to use their new credit line to buy items from their game and not someone else’s game.
The origin of this phenomenon dates back to 1998 when NTT Docomo first introduced internet access for their mobile phones. With mobile internet access came early forms of premium content such as ringtones, wallpapers, and mobile games all of which were exclusively purchased using carrier billing. But demand for mobile games in Japan was unlike anywhere else in the world. Game publishers like GREE and DeNA earned staggering amounts of money selling game content on Japanese mobile phones – nearly all of it, charged to the consumers’ phone bill. But because mobile operators limited the amount of charges that can placed on a subscriber’s monthly phone bill, competition to sell as much premium content as possible before consumers hit their monthly limit became fierce. This gave birth to the midnight promotions.
Today, these midnight promotions continue to prevail but have moved well beyond the old WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) games played on feature phones and are now aimed at the latest mobile games played on smartphones. This is where carrier billing remains a popular payment option on both iOS AppStore and Google Play, especially in Japan where credit card penetration is stuck at 16% and PayPal remains largely absent. With growth showing no signs of slowing, Boku is committed to keeping its platform well ahead of demand, investing in more network bandwidth, faster database performance, and better application efficiency. Recent load tests show Boku’s platform processing in excess of 600 transactions per second without any noticeable degradation of performance and while this may appear sufficient today, the team has already begun work on doubling that performance. After all, if more scale leads to lower costs and lower costs lead to more volume, it is an investment that will ultimately pay off for carriers, merchants, and consumers alike.
What is GDPR?
The GDPR affects European and non-European businesses that process the data of end-users that are resident in the European Economic Area (EEA).
If you are a user of our services, and you are resident in the EEA, GDPR covers the data that we process about you and how we protect it. At Boku, we value your business and protecting your data is really important to us. We want to make sure you know what GDPR means for you and the services we provide.
From 25 May 2018, if you are a user of our services resident in the EEA, new rules will apply which provide you with new rights. These include the right to view and correct the personal data we hold about you, and the right for you to ask that we delete any personal data that we hold about you.
Where can you see the changes?
There are also changes which you may not see, for example which have been made to ensure any transfers of your data outside of the EEA are made with appropriate safeguards to protect your rights. Boku has also introduced data retirement procedures that ensure your data is only processed for as long as is necessary for us to be able to provide our services.
If you need any help, or have any questions, just contact our Customer Support team.
Fortnite Battle Royale, published by Epic Games, was just recently released for iOS to great fanfare; it was previously only available on PC and console. The release has been a tremendous hit with more than 40 million users across all platforms and mobile revenue surpassing $15 million in the first three weeks. Fornite Battle Royale is outperforming other leading titles like Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans and Pokemon Go. This remarkable success has led to a noticeable increase in Boku’s carrier billing volume from Xbox, PS4, and iOS.
While there have been plenty of hit freemium games on mobile, they are rare on console. The console gaming industry has historically been fueled by the sale of physical discs through retail stores and, more recently, a growing number of full-priced downloads. Yet this shift to digital downloads has been slow due to the frequent discounting by physical retailers and the popularity of buying and selling used discs.
But what happens when console games can be downloaded for free? Discs pass into oblivion. Fortnite Battle Royale can be downloaded to your PlayStation and Xbox for free which means the only people buying the physical discs are those with slow Internet connections. So, while the focus has mostly been on Fortnite Battle Royale’s expansion from console to mobile, perhaps the more interesting observation is the expansion of the freemium model from mobile to console.
Boku’s data reveals that this transition has been picking up speed. Overall carrier billing volume on console is steadily increasing as gamers shift their spending (for digital downloads, in-game purchases, and live services) from offline to online. In fact, every time Electronic Arts (which reportedly earned $1.68 billion from in-game purchases last year) releases the latest version of the ever popular FIFA game, Boku sees a predictable spike in carrier billed payment volume from both Xbox and PlayStation.
Fortnite Battle Royale may finally signal the beginning of the end of the physical game disc. If that is the case, the ease with which gamers can make in-game purchases and pay for subscriptions will be critical to the growth of console gaming revenues. The good news is that mobile gaming has already shown how access to simple, ubiquitous payment methods like carrier billing is achievable and critical to success.
In response to this trend, Boku is expanding carrier billing availability on console to more markets while improving in-game purchasing experiences and refining subscription capabilities. That means:
making it easier to securely charge your mobile account from your game controller for a better user experience
handling a wider variety of subscription pricing schemes to improve user acquisition
implementing smarter rebilling and billing recovery features to reduce churn
In the meantime, whether you have a PC, PlayStation, Xbox, or an iOS device, try downloading Fortnite Battle Royale. It’s free!
The Boku team will be attending and can answer any questions you might have about how carrier billing can boost monetization.
ICE Totally Gaming is the B2B gaming event that brings together the international online and offline gaming sectors. ICE represents the entire gaming industry covering landbased and online channels across all sectors. ICE continues to be the leading industry event due to its size and scale, the quality and quantity of the audience and the consequent networking and business development opportunities it offers.
MUMBAI, India–ALTBalaji, the largest digital platform for exclusive and original shows from India, has partnered with Boku, the global leader in carrier billing-based mobile payments, to bring carrier billing as a payment option to international users. ALTBalaji has clocked over 5 million downloads across iOS and Android users with subscribers from over 75 countries.
Through this collaboration, ALTBalaji’s content will now be accessible to millions of consumers globally through Boku’s carrier partners. ALTBalaji appointed Mr. Subhash R Ghosh, Founder & MD of Lemon Advisors Pte. Ltd, a leading technology-consulting firm, to facilitate alliances with Boku and carrier partners.
Commenting on this partnership, Mr. Sunil Nair, COO, ALTBalaji said, “ALTBalaji is committed to enhancing consumer experience and carrier billing is one such avenue for frictionless platform-customer relationship. Our partnership with Boku will enable viewers and new customers across the globe to pay in a way that is 100% mobile, convenient, and enables them access our content instantly. We have found Boku to be a great service partner enabling ALTBalaji to offer its streaming service to Indians around the globe, in any market, on any device.”
“Video streaming services like ALTBalaji represent a massive opportunity not just for the carrier billing industry or the carriers, but for the streaming companies themselves. With so much original content available to consumers, such high demand and so many options, there has never been a more important time for streaming services to claim market share and build brand loyalty among new consumers, including those who need or prefer a fully mobile payment solution. ALTBalaji is leading the way for others in their industry on many fronts including payments,” added Mr. Maximilian Lehmann, Vice President Business Development Asia Pacific & MENA, Boku.
ALTBalaji is the only digital platform launched with 7 original Hindi shows like DevDD, Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat, Boygiri, Bewafaa Sii Wafaa, Romil and Jugal, The Test Case, Class of 2017 and one regional Tamil language show, Maya Thirrai. The upcoming original shows are Bose, Ragini MMS Returns, Cybersquad, Dhimaner Dinkaal (Bengali regional show), Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat season 2, PM Selfiewallie , Puncch Beat, FourPlay, Haq Se, Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain, Pammi Aunty, Kapoor’s and much more.
Balaji Telefilms’ foray into original shows on digital platforms, ALT Digital Media Entertainment Limited, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Balaji Telefilms Ltd. A multi-device subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) Platform, ALTBalaji gives audiences the content they want to watch – whenever, wherever, and however. ALTBalaji’s offerings include premium, disruptive content, and original series across genres. With originality, courage, and relentlessness at its core, ALTBalaji’s content stands out for being avant-garde, non-conformist, inclusive, and effervescent. ALTBalaji is here to set new standards and benchmarks in giving digitally connected contemporary audiences an alternate content platform.
Boku is a leading direct carrier billing mobile payments company integrated with hundreds of mobile operators all over the world. Its bank-grade payments technology allows consumers to charge purchases to their mobile phone bill. Boku partners with global merchants including Facebook, Sony, Spotify, and many more. Based in San Francisco with offices in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, Boku is funded by leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists including Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and NEA.
Today, Boku announces three new carrier expansions to our global Spotify partnership, allowing millions more new mobile subscribers to sign up for Spotify Premium using only their mobile number across France, Australia, and Malaysia. Now, more than 12.6 million BYT subscribers in France can stream their favorite music using Spotify Premium, with the subscription fee appearing on their pre or post-paid mobile plan.
In Malaysia, this same functionality is coming to subscribers of Maxis Communications, the 3rd largest telecommunications provider in the country with more than 11 million subscribers.
Finally, the second largest carrier in Australia, Optus, will expand carrier billing to include Spotify Premium subscriptions for nearly 8.5 million subscribers.
The new expansions come after a year of rapid growth for the carrier billing partnership between Boku and Spotify, which also saw the companies bring direct carrier billing to Japan, Switzerland, and Germany.
Earlier this year, just ahead of Build, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is now running on over 500 million devices worldwide, an incredible landmark for one of the most seamless consumer experiences ever created across mobile, desktops, laptops, and gaming consoles.
One critical component to the continued expansion and adoption of Windows 10 has been, and will continue to be, the ability for every consumer to make purchases via the Windows Store. To that end, Microsoft and Boku have been working since the launch of Windows 10 to provide carrier billing as a credit alternative for consumers in major markets worldwide – from Canada, to the UK, Russia, Turkey, Poland, Italy, France, and many more.
Through these partnerships, hundreds of millions of mobile subscribers now have the ability to make purchases across Windows 10 devices using only their mobile account. While this is an incredible benefit for current Windows users in these markets, carrier billing also opens a significant opportunity for Microsoft to attract new, paying users by providing them a mobile-only payment option within the Windows Store.
Today, Boku and Microsoft continue the global expansion of this industry-leading carrier billing partnership with three new markets: Spain, Austria, and Romania.
Longtime Boku carrier partner Orange will be leading the charge in Spain and Romania, bringing this new payment option on Windows 10 to more than 23 million mobile customers. In Austria, more than 5 million A1 mobile subscribers will now see “carrier billing” as an option the next time they log into their Windows Store account.
Today, Boku announces an expansion to bring direct carrier billing to Windows Store customers in Turkey in partnership with Turkcell, the leading mobile phone operator of Turkey. As part of Microsoft’s integration with Boku, Windows 10 customers in Turkey will be able to use their mobile account as a payment option when making purchases in the Windows Store. Customers can now make purchases across the full range of Windows 10 devices, including mobile phones, tablets, PCs, laptops, and Xbox.
Turkcell holds the largest marketshare in Turkey, with more than 34 million mobile subscribers. In addition, Turkcell serves a total of nine markets including Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and others, bringing the carrier’s total subscriber base to nearly 69 million subscribers.
Turkey’s mobile market is significant, with more than 71 million mobile phones across more than 79 million residents. Credit card penetration sits at just 33%, and debit card penetration is 43%, making carrier billing a very attractive source of revenue for online merchants like Microsoft.
Today Boku has extended their agreement with Microsoft to bring carrier billing to all Windows 10 devices on Orange France, including Windows Phones, Surface tablets, PC’s and laptops. As part of the expanded integration with Boku, Windows 10 customers on Orange France will be able to use their mobile phone number to save their mobile account as their preferred payment method when making any purchase in the Windows Store.
This is the first time carrier billing will be offered as a payment option for the Windows Store in France and will be available across a full range of devices including Windows Phones, Surface Tablets and any PC or laptop running Windows 10.
France is one of the top global markets for Windows 10 adoption, which currently has over 400 Million downloads globally. Orange boasts over 29 Million subscribers, nearly 40% marketshare, in France.