Zong has just announced a partnership with online gaming community Outspark. Zong will power Outspark's mobile payment processing services by allowing users to purchase SparkCash (the gaming company's currency) to buy goods in games like Fiesta, Secret of the Solstice, Wind Slayer and Project Powder.Mobile payments provider
Similar to Boku, Echovox's Zong offers publishers and app developers the opportunity to deliver fee-based mobile content to its users. Charges are then reflected on monthly cell phone bills. Given Outspark's current claim to more than 5 million users, this is a benchmark deal for Zong.
The company expressed earlier that its focus is currently on currency exchange for virtual gaming goods such as armor and weapons as shown in the Paradise Paintball demo below.
Zong processes payments across 92 carriers in 17 countries and first entered the US last year. The company suggests that, "Over 70% of the global online audience does not have a credit card, but most all of them have a mobile phone." Accordingly, Zong provides customer support in 7 languages and exists to provide an alternative to credit card processing. And therein lies the rub.
What is interesting about the mobile micropayment space is that while there are so many new players, the carriers control the landscape and subsequently, the level of innovation. We know that mobile micropayments can be a game changer for nonprofit organizations, political campaigns and gaming, but the reality is that after the carrier has taken it's cut, very little trickles down to the processor and publisher.
Mobile micropayments are extremely convenient, and they're great when there are no alternatives. But for businesses, credit cards still remain a more favorable payment method due to lower fees. For this reason, there has been little incentive to pursue mobile micropayments as a primary means of processing. Nevertheless, because of Outspark's high membership numbers and Zong's claim that it can convert buyers "up to 10 times greater than traditional payment methods", the sheer volume of this deal's transactions might change some minds in the gaming world.