BilltoMobile, a Verizon partner since March 2010, has signed an agreement with BOKU, a mobile payments company that already provides merchants access to 2 billion consumers worldwide on 230 carriers, including AT&T, Vodafone, Globe and others. Also now on board is Zong, another international mobile payments company known for its integration with Facebook Credits, and more recently, its launch of a carrier billing program for Android developers.Multiple mobile payments companies are teaming up to offer expanded direct carrier billing options to Verizon Wireless customers here in the U.S.
BilltoMobile operates a payment gateway that's tied directly with Verizon's billing platform here in the U.S., as well as AT&T's. The new agreement allows BOKU and Zong to access that gateway, in order to provide services to Verizon customers.
For Verizon end users, this simply means more options for carrier billing.
What's Carrier Billing?
Carrier billing is a term that refers to the ability for mobile purchases, such as the purchase of virtual goods, services or other content, to be paid for via a mobile subscriber's carrier bill. Merchants often work with mobile payment providers, such as BilltoMobile, to process those transactions, as opposed to working directly with the carrier itself.
Direct mobile billing isn't even limited to mobile phones. With services like BilltoMobile, BOKU, Zong and others, you can actually pay for online purchases via carrier billing from your desktop Web browser, too.
BilltoMobile Deal Not Exclusive to BOKU
Currently, the San Jose-based BilltoMobile serves 65% of all U.S. wireless subscribers. Its key investor, Danal Co., Ltd. from Seoul, South Korea, has a long history in this market, having integrated direct mobile billing with 10,000+ merchants worldwide to date. Danal Co. has processed $4 billion in e-commerce mobile transactions since its first carrier partnership back in 2000.
BOKU, a San Francisco-based mobile payments startup founded in 2009, doesn't have an exclusive on this Verizon deal. Zong, a BOKU competitor, has also established a relationship with BilltoMobile. Any other company that wants to bill to Verizon would need to go through BilltoMobile, too.
Carrier billing has yet to really take off in the U.S. due to lack of availability, support, and consumer education, but is already popular in many parts of the world. In recent months, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, have all launched or expanded their carrier billing efforts. And with more partnerships like the one announced today, it looks like it will become more of a standard way to pay for purchases in the months ahead.