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Boku rolls out NFC payments in France

August 26, 2011

Mobile payments company Boku is letting French consumers pay for virtual goods and services via their handsets.

Boku lets consumers make mobile payments using their phone number

The company is partnering with French carriers Bouygues Telecom and SFR. The deal will reach 32 million French consumers.

“France is a top priority for us in international markets, and we decided we wanted to tap into it in 2010,” said Ron Hirson, cofounder/president of Boku, San Francisco.

“This deal will make it possible for consumers to buy things on their handsets without worrying about the restrictions of multiple carriers,” he said.

Boku is a global payment system focused on using the telephone number in more than 66 countries.

Virtual goods
With Boku’s Internet + Mobile service, consumers will be able to buy virtual and digital goods from their handsets, including Facebook credits and games.

Merchants who  use the service can use Boku for purchases up to approximately $15.

Consumers can click the Boku button at the point-of-sale to make purchases. They are then taken to a landing page where they enter their phone number and view the amount.

To confirm payment, Boku sends consumers a text message.

The purchase is then sent to their carrier bill.

“For customers Boku is great because it has a fast transaction time, and merchants get higher payout rates,” Mr. Hirson said.

“People are more comfortable typing in their phone number than giving away their credit information,” he said.

“Our model is based off of the mobile payment industry we saw in South Korea with virtual goods and a low average transaction flow.”

Real-world goods
Boku is only one of a string of companies that see the telephone number as a key to unlocking mobile payments, especially in European markets.

Most recently, Payfone opened up its services to European mobile payment company Fortumo to draw in new merchants and consumers. (see story).

In the United States market, NFC payments are gaining traction with companies including Google, Mastercard and Citi claiming a spot next to Isis – a partnership between U.S. carriers and Discover Card and Barclaycard (see story).

Mr. Hirson sees mobile commerce picking up steam this year and has plans to tap into mobile payments for physical goods in the future.

“I think we’ll see more mobile payments being used with physical things like music, movies and other low-ticket items,” Mr. Hirson said.

“I think we’ll also see a wave with NFC payments because there is a lot of interest and use around it,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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