Oct 5, 2010

A core part of our business here at Boku is to establish relationships with mobile carriers. Our hard work doing just that with our teams in the Americas, Asia and Europe has made us the biggest mobile payments provider enabling top tier merchants, with coverage in more than 60 countries (we just added Argentina, Israel and Brazil), and integration with more than 220 different carriers. We enable more than 2 billion consumers worldwide to “pay by mobile,” and we do a new transaction every second.

Over the past two years, Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) have moved beyond exploration of mobile payments and are enabling a next generation set of functionality to capitalize on the opportunity to grow revenue from payments. Most specifically, the legacy payments system (usually PSMS) are being replaced by next generation API’s that are modeled after banks and credit cards. These direct billing API’s allow Boku to do things that haven’t been possible at this scale before in mobile payments (for example: auth, settle, refund, pre-auth, etc.). Not only are these API’s more robust, the rates at which MNO’s charge for these payments services have improved significantly, which opens new Ecommerce markets.

By working with our network of direct relationships, we can offer improved rates to our merchants and ultimately to the consumers. In other words, as we work closely with mobile carriers and reduce rates together, more and more merchants will accept mobile payments thereby growing the ecosystem.

These types of connections and rates started in Asia, have expanded across Europe and are coming to US as well. An example of one of our recent direct agreements is Vodafone UK. (In case you didn’t know, Vodafone Global is the 2nd largest carrier group in the world, behind only China Mobile.) This direct relationship with Vodafone UK does a few things:

  • Enables customers to charge their online purchases directly to their Vodafone pre and post paid accounts by connecting with Vodafone’s robust MPAY payments API.
  • Allows Vodafone customers make either single or subscription purchases of any amount between 5p and £30 GBP.
  • The connection also enables two-step authorization and capture, transaction processing and the ability pass refunds back to the customer’s account.

This new type of payments service offers merchants the best of all worlds: a frictionless, high-conversion payment flow combined with highly competitive interchange terms, faster payment terms, and credit card-like taxation treatment.

Deals like this make Boku ever more powerful for mobile phone users who like the ease-of-use, convenience and security of mobile payments. We want to enable consumers everywhere to pay by mobile, help carriers make more money by increasing the volume of payments and opening new revenue streams, and help merchants collect more money from the consumers who love their products. We’ll be posting more on this in the coming months, so stay tuned.