January 14, 2010

Mobile Donation to Haiti

Many of you are aware of the tragic 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday.  The impacts to this already impoverished nation are staggering and help of any kind is being sought.  We wanted to let you know of a program where mobile payments can be used for donations and we’re reaching out to friends and partners to ask folks to donate to the American Red Cross Relief for Haiti via texting “HAITI” to 90999.

This will work similar to mobile payments in that $10 will show up on your mobile phone bill. Mobile donations have *no* carrier fees.   Boku is not the provider of this service, we just want to get the message out about this opportunity to help.

More details can be found here:


and here:


The Boku Team

November 7, 2009

Direct Payments vs. Lead-gen

It’s been a week since the Virtual Goods Summit.  A great show put on by Charles Hudson and David Sachs.  The last session of the last day had some interesting fireworks.  Mike Arrington from Techcrunch traded words with Anu Shukla of Offerpal around the lead-gen business (great summary by VentureBeat here: http://bit.ly/2YLHIl).

I thought it might be worthwhile posting our thoughts on the space as we’re partnered with many of the payments aggregators to provide direct mobile payments, which means our direct-payment button appears in some screenshots near the types of offers that are under review.

We have built Boku as a direct payments company, in the same category as Paypal, VISA, and other major credit cards.  We are purely focused on mobile payments.  Boku does *zero* lead generation, CPA, subscription offers, IQ quizzes or the like. We enable customers to purchase virtual goods and currencies directly (not indirectly) via their mobile phone.  The offers that are being discussed in the blogosphere are around those companies that provide subscription services after lead-gen offers like quizzes, IQ tests, or wallpaper downloads, etc.   **Boku does not provide such services.**

Boku does not target an under-age audience, and avoids entirely the use of any subscription offers and lead generation techniques. In essence, we do the same things that VISA and Paypal do.  Our direct payment system is highly secure, and in lock-step with the policies and standards of the credit card industry.

Overall, we think it benefits the industry to have a open discussion around keeping customers safe as it relates to this lead-gen business. We look forward to the results of the efforts of platforms (social networks), games and offer providers to ensure that in the end the industry that we’re all working for, keeps the customer safe and secure, as they are the core of ours, and any business.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. ron [at] boku dotcom or press [at] boku dotcom.

To view how our service works, see this video here:

July 23, 2009

Consumer Safety Tips

    Boku is a simple, fast and secure way to pay for digital goods and services online. Since you always need to have your mobile phone with you to complete the transaction, there are security benefits over credit cards and other forms of payment. That said, we recognize that an increase in the adoption of mobile payments will eventually lead to people and entities trying to take advantage. This is one of the reasons that I left PayPal to join Boku. Here I can apply my experience with risk and fraud in internet payments to create a world class risk system for Boku’s mobile payments platform and also help consumers across all mobile payments companies. I’ve put together a few tips to help customers in protecting their mobile phone from unauthorized payments.


1. Lock your phone

Most phones on the market these days have the ability to set a PIN code that must be entered in order to use the phone. It prevents people from not only using your phone to make calls and send messages but also protects the personal information you keep on your phone such as contact information for you and your friends and family, emails, photos and any other information you keep there. And, since you’re not required to enter the PIN in order to receive calls it’s a very small inconvenience in order to get lots of protection. This is a great feature to protect you from misuse in the event that your phone is lost or stolen, or even if you’re worried that someone in your household (like a child or roommate) might use your phone without your authorization. If you are not sure if your phone has this capability or how to enable it, check with your mobile service provider for assistance.


2. Consider purchase blocking

A particularly great feature for parents and something that everyone should be aware of is the ability to put a purchase block on your phone. This feature will prevent the phone from being used to make purchases for ring tones, games, etc. (things that are “extras” to your mobile contract). You won’t be able to use Boku if you have a purchase block on your phone but it’s a cool feature to control spending, especially for children.

We want to make sure you’re happy with your Boku purchases. So, if you don’t think you’ll ever want to use our service we can also put a Boku block on your phone: just contact us at http://www.boku.com/support/. Note, however, that this type of block is for Boku only so your phone could still be used for purchases on other similar payment services.

Also, while we prohibit certain types of products and services, like adult, from being offered on Boku we thought you might also like to know that there are carriers who offer related services for blocking, such as Orange’s Safeguard program in the UK (http://www1.orange.co.uk/safety/mobile/152/155.html). Check with your carrier to see what’s available in your market.


3. Review SMS message content

If you have an email address, then you’ve likely had the experience of receiving spam: unsolicited or undesired emails that can be harmless but can also be a “phishing” scam, attempting to get you to log into a spoof web site in order to steal your passwords, asking you to reply and give up personal information, etc. Click http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/phishing.aspx (or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing) for more information about phishing. You should be aware that it’s also possible that you may receive such messages via SMS with similar scams.

At Boku,

  • We’ll never ask you to send personally identifiable information via SMS.
  • Messages will only come from one of our approved “short codes”. This means it will not look like a typical phone number in your region.
  • The only messages that our system accepts (and thus, the only things we’ll ask you to send us are) a single word or a word followed by a number (the specific word varies by market).

If you receive any messages that appear to be from Boku but are not on this list, forward them to [email protected] and DO NOT RESPOND.


4. Don’t get tricked

Your phone has the ability to be make purchases, just like your credit card. It’s exciting, but it also means you have to protect it from people trying to place unwanted charges on your bill.

You’ve likely heard about scams where people send a cashier’s check and then ask the recipient to cash it and send money to them, often via a money transfer service like Western Union. Sometimes this is done in conjunction with something you’ve sold and they send an overpayment (I’ll give you the $500 you wanted for the computer and then another $500 and you send me the computer and $500 in cash), sometimes they tell you that you can keep a percentage of the check and send only the balance, sometimes you’re told “you’ve won the lottery”, etc. Whatever the technique, the result is that you get “tricked” into doing something that will benefit the other party such as giving them money for something you’ll never get, giving them information they wanted, giving them access to your computer, etc. This is a fraud technique called “social engineering”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_engineering_(security).

In the mobile space, one form of social engineering can happen when someone convinces you to respond to a transaction confirmation, resulting in charges being placed on your bill. They may tell you something like “you’re going to get a message – just respond “Y” and then I’ll send you a picture of <your favorite star> naked.” (you won’t ever see that picture, by the way).  Facebook IQ tests are notorious for this.

Some simple pointers:

  • Don’t give out your phone number to people you don’t know, especially in a chat room. While the phone number in and of itself will not allow someone to charge your bill, it can be used to help in the “trickery” scheme.
  • All Boku transactions are generated on the internet. If you weren’t on the internet and/or you didn’t ask for the message to be sent to you, DO NOT respond.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns you can reach us at http://www.boku.com/support/ or email [email protected].