Payments

7 carrier-billing firms that are witnessing growth in their customer bases and investments

Wouldn’t it be convenient if we could pay for merchandise using just our phone and our existing phone account? Well, there is hope. Giants such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and others are signing deals with carrier-billing players, and the carrier-billing players mentioned below are targeting convenience for the consumer.

Carrier billing is gaining momentum across markets, providing the most convenient form of mobile payments. As per Juniper research conducted in 2013, global revenue from carrier billing is expected to reach $13 billion by 2017. This form of billing is secure in nature, involving a two-factor authentication method. During actual transactions, the user simply enters his mobile number and receives a one-time password via text message to complete the authentication procedure.

With about half of Android apps using in-app billing, many developers and sellers of digital goods are looking into carrier billing as the optimum solution. Below we look at some companies that are maintaining the positive momentum around carrier billing.

Fortumo

The company has teamed up with around 300 operators and 92,000 developers globally, providing carrier-billing services in over 180 countries. It also provides SDKs, APIs and plug-ins for cross-platform integration of carrier billing as a payment option. There have been numerous developments by Fortumo in the field of carrier billing:

  • On 1st July, Fortumo launched direct carrier billing in Pakistan by partnering with mobile operator Telenor. Fortumo is aiming to provide carrier billing to Telenor Pakistan’s more than 35 million subscribers.
  • On 29th May 2014, Fortumo entered into a partnership with TreSensa, a game-development and -distribution platform, to bring in-app purchasing to the gaming network. Developers of HTML5-based apps were able to integrate carrier billing to earn additional revenue.
  • In February 2014, Fortumo joined the Open In-App Billing (OpenIAB) initiative. On 7th April 2014, a new version of OpenIAB was launched that enabled developers to use mobile operator billing.
  • On 25th February 2014, Ditto TV, India’s first OTT TV-distribution platform, partnered with Fortumo to introduce a carrier-billing option for its users.
  • On 18th February 2014, Fortumo announced a direct-carrier-billing partnership with Smart Communications Inc., the Philippines’ largest operator.
  • On 8th January 2014, Fortumo announced a partnership with Payelp Global, a provider of global payment services to businesses and online retailers that processes 500,000 transactions a minute.

In February 2013, Fortumo raised $10 million from Intel Capital and Greycroft Partners, which has enabled it to make a foray into emerging markets with carrier billing.

Boku

The San Francisco-based global mobile payments company provides carrier billing on its platform. The platform supports any charge on any device – offline, online, mobile, desktop, console or smart TV – whether it’s one-time-only, subscription or top-up. Boku’s trademarked 1-Tap authorization allows instant payments through carrier billing.

On 8th May 2014, the company partnered with Deutsche Telekom Group, one of the leading mobile network operators in Europe, covering the MNO’s more than 140 million subscribers in 14 countries. Boku is providing dedicated APIs to provide carrier-billing capabilities to consumers’ mobiles. With such initiatives, Boku is handling large merchants with more-sophisticated requirements, bringing a deeper level of coordination with large carrier groups across multiple markets.

Boku also teamed up with Sony last year to enable carrier billing as a payment option for PlayStation users. Boku has raised $75 million in funding from investors such as NEA, Andreessen Horowitz, Dag Ventures, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Boku operates in 66 countries with 40 currencies and has deals with more than 250 carriers covering 3.2 billion consumers (source: TechCrunch).

Bango

The company delivers carrier billing and alternative payment options using its proprietary BillRank technology. The payment model in use is “browse and buy,” providing a mobile checkout experience similar to purchasing over the Internet. It supports browser-based, in-app and app-store payments. Bango powers carrier billing for a number of app-store connections, including those of Facebook, BlackBerry, Google Play, Windows Phone and major brands such as CNN, Cartoon Network and EA Mobile.

To differentiate itself, Bango also offers real-time reporting to app-store owners and developers, covering payments, refunds and app and website use. Bango has global partnership with Telefonica Digital, creating an enhanced direct-to-bill payment experience for mobile app stores. Bango also partnered with Etisalat in June 2014 to provide the operator with direct operator billing (DOB) services.

Bango raised $10.2 million in funding in February 2013. The company has active operator connections in over 47 countries, reaching out to more than a billion subscribers.

Buongiorno

The company provides carrier billing through its Cashlog ”pay by mobile” platform. It has 40 European merchant partners and processed more than 1.7 million transactions in May 2012. It has extended the capability of the platform to support one-click in-app operator payments on Android. An SDK provided as part of the carrier-billing solution works via not only 3G but also Wi-Fi. The Cashlog system also supports mobile HTML5 in-app purchases.

Cashlog is a cross-platform solution available for all users browsing a merchant’s mobile site from iOS, Android, BlackBerry or Windows phones. The company expects Cashlog to meet a huge rise in mobile payment transactions. In less than nine months, Cashlog has signed up 20 European digital merchants and has been chosen by 55,000 customers for buying digital goods.

Cashlog will also provide carrier billing to 5 million additional users as per an agreement with Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest operator.

Zong

Zong provides fast and frictionless carrier-billing services, working with hundreds of online merchants and social networks. Its one-click payment system includes use of a secure PIN code. Zong boasts of a 70% payment conversion rate across 24 localized languages. It works with more than 240 carriers, reaching out to more than 3.2 billion consumers across 40+ countries.

For the merchant, Zong provides an XML feed of countries and price points and a URL for each. The customer is taken through a streamlined payment flow, and the purchase information is sent to the merchant. The payment flow is housed in a small iFrame, where the site can be embedded.

Zong wasthe first to bring carrier billing to the Philippines, partnering with local MNOs Smart and Globe. Zong raised $22.5 million before PayPal shelled out $200 million to buy it. Zong has also teamed up with other players, such as Boku, to bring carrier billing to Verizon.

Text2pay

In 2012, the company launched ”1-Tap billing” for mobile websites. It uses an identification process based on users’ phone number, eliminating the use of PINs and passwords. Its services are live in over 43 countries, available to merchants offering virtual and digital goods. The carrier-billing service can be easily integrated into mobile sites, apps and services available through a mobile browser.

Tap2Pay enables merchants to integrate Text2Pay mobile payments into their mobile site or application. Tap2Pay offers two solutions for all merchants looking to reach their customers’ mobile devices: the new HTML5 Web Mobile Payment Flow and In-App Payments for Android devices.

TxtNation

The company announced its carrier-billing services in 2011. It started its first deployment in Ireland and has also partnered with O2 and Vodafone. Its solution works in any country where carriers support MSISDN pass-through, enabling use of one-click billing. Last year, the company teamed up with NFC vendor RapidNFC to launch NFC support to initiate carrier billing. The service was started in the UK in collaboration with Payforit as a joint service offered by all UK MNOs.

The transaction process requires no sign-up or linkage of bank account. Transaction fees up to 15% are charged for the transactions. Real-time reporting to the merchant is also supported in the solution. The company raised funds by selling a 49% stake in itself to UK-based MobileMail for $2.5 million in cash and $7 million in stock.

Ray

Ray has keen interest in the area of devices, OS and wireless technologies. He is a Mobile Technology enthusiast and believes that Mobility is going to completely change the way we do Payments and Commerce. He wishes to share this belief with the world by providing such content through LetsTalkPayments. Ray has done his engineering as well as MBA.

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