Pay with your phone?

*Early on I purchased a few domains which pertained to mobile phone payments. The following story illustrates a developing function for mobile phones users. In the Caribbean, I know this will be a great tool for online companies to flourish. It is important to note that other countries already has mobile payments available through their phone. Read more below.

Some would say our cell phone bills are high enough already. But two emerging start-ups are hoping to make mobile devices a hub for one of the hottest trends on the Web: micropayments.
Enter Boku, which launched officially on Tuesday with a whirlwind of announcements: its public launch after a year in stealth mode, its acquisitions of smaller companies Paymo and Mobillcash, and a $13 million round of venture funding led by Benchmark Capital with contributions from Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures.
A social-networking, gaming, or retail Web site can install Boku as a payment platform much like PayPal. But instead of entering a credit card number, members enter their cell phone numbers. A confirmation text message is sent to the cell phone, which the member must reply to for security purposes. No registration is required, and the charge goes to that member's phone bill. It's quite an idea, and one with invariably will raise plenty of questions about economics, social-media revenue, and the big one--security.

"We're focused on getting to as many publishers and merchants as possible," said Ron Hirson, an AT&T veteran who leads up marketing at Boku. The start-up is launching with carrier compatibility in 53 countries, integration into a number of social apps (including the ubiquitous "Mafia Wars"), and an official partnership with Hi5, an entertainment-focused social network with a big foothold in a number of Latin American countries. "We want to make this value proposition, this technology that we've built, and get to all the social games, all the casual games people play, (and) MMOs."

But Boku already has an extremely close competitor: Zong, which first launched in the U.S. in the spring of 2008, and which offers the same strategy of facilitating micropayments with a cell phone number, and which has already set up shop in virtual-goods havens like RockYou's social-net apps, teen site MyYearbook, and avatar company Meez.
With both companies now launched, now it's time for the land grab.
"I think we're on for a good boxing match in the ring," Zong CEO David Marcus said in an interview with CNET News.

It looks like it'll be quite the rivalry, since this is a situation where both companies want to achieve PayPal-like levels of ubiquity. Zong says it's more user-friendly; Boku touts a broader global reach. Boku says it's more customizable for merchants that want to install it; Zong says it has an advantage by partnering directly with carriers whenever possible and avoiding aggregation companies that effectively resell carrier relationships. Read more



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