Bango and Telefónica to bring app buying power to mobile bills

26 Feb 2013

Bango, the mobile payments provider that provides mobile payment capabilities to social network Facebook and Google’s Play store, has struck a major deal with Telefónica to bring mobile payments to 314m app buyers worldwide. As a result, people who don’t own credit cards will be able to buy apps and the charge will be applied to their mobile bills.

It emerged at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the two companies will partner globally to create an enhanced direct-to-bill payment experience for mobile app stores.

The partnership will combine Bango’s frictionless payment experience with Telefónica’s BlueVia Payment APIs, connecting more than 314m chargeable customers worldwide to the Bango Payments Platform. Telefónica operates in Ireland and the UK under the O2 brand.

Telefónica is rolling out direct-to-bill capabilities in its operating businesses and earlier this year announced global framework agreements with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and BlackBerry (then RIM).

Speaking with at the Mobile World Congress today, Bango spokesman Richard Leyland explained that Bango now supports all the major app stores with the exception of Apple’s App Store.

“What this does is it provides a set of services to help app developers to monetise via Telefónica’s Blue Via payments APIs,” Leyland said.

“In effect, Telefónica’s networks can use their billing platform as a means of allowing consumers to buy apps and this in turn provides revenue to developers.”

Leyland said the industry standard for app developers developing for the various app stores is 70pc.

“One of the big fears app developers have is that with mobile operators getting more and more involved in the payments process for apps they would lose out but in fact that 70pc is the industry standard and it is the remaining 30pc that operators, app stores and payment systems engage in commercial negotiations.

“What we bring to the table is the ability for operators to engage in the app revolution by harnessing their billing relationship with consumers so they don’t need to have a credit card to buy apps.”

Last year, Bango struck a deal with Telstra in Australia to facilitate direct-to-bill payments for consumers buying apps from the Google Play store. The first mobile telecoms operator to deploy the system is Telstra in Australia.

This came hot on the heels of a deal with Facebook to enable carrier billing mobile payments in France through an alliance with Orange France.

Leyland said mobile payments via billing is on the rise and the Cambridge-based company is ideally placed to serve the network operators as operators strive to bring the apps economy to developing economies where most users would not own a credit card.

He also points out that Bango’s system enjoys higher conversion rates – transaction completions – than credit-card providers. “Bango achieves a 77pc conversion rate, which compares with a conversion rate of between 2pc and 10pc among credit card issuers.”

Leyland said Bango is now working with all the major app providers – Google Play, Facebook, Microsoft’s Windows Store and the BlackBerry apps platform – with the exception of Apple.

Leyland added that eventually Apple will need to consider enabling app purchases for mobile users who don’t have credit cards.

App payments image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years