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MocoSpace taps Boku mobile payments platform

September 1, 2009

The Premier Football app taps Boku for mobile payments

The Premier Football app taps Boku for mobile payments

Mobile social network MocoSpace has selected Boku’s mobile payments platform to let consumers pay for virtual goods and premium services via their handsets.

Spanning the social and casual gaming, social networking and application spaces, companies are using the Boku service to sell digital goods and services to their global customers. The service lets more than 1.8 billion potential consumers shop online or on the mobile Web and buy virtual goods and digital content using their mobile phone, with the sale being charged to their carrier bill.

“We’ve started rolling out a mobile currency system called MocoGold letting members buy that currency and use it to purchase virtual goods and premium features, and one of our partners is Boku,” said Justin Siegel, cofounder/CEO of MocoSpace, Boston.

“Right now we’re in Beta, so it’s early, but so far the feedback has been positive, and we’ve seen very solid conversion rates,” he said.

MocoSpace has 8 million members, with the vast majority of those in the United States. The mobile social networking site gets roughly 4 million unique visitors per month.

MocoSpace expects the MocoGold program to roll out to the whole site by the end of September.

MocoSpace is also using Bango and PayPal for mobile payments, as well as SuperRewards and Gambit for Web offerings.

“It seems like on the mobile side of things, members are favoring the Boku solution to other solutions we offer,” Mr. Siegel said. “It’s all about ease of use, because the more difficult it is to jump through the hurdles to pay, the more breakage there’s going to be.

“With Boku it seems like a pretty streamlined process,” he said. “The premium message consumers have to respond to is very reliable.

“Generally speaking, we’re very optimistic, very excited and very encouraged by the early results we’re getting from the Boku solution.”

While ad support continues to play an important monetization role for MocoSpace, it expects payments for virtual goods to increase in importance going forward.

“We see advertising playing as being the most important model for us, but overtime virtual goods a growing part of that business,” Mr. Siegel said. “It’s so hard to make any predictions about what percentage it will be, but for example, in Asia, 80 to 100 percent of a site’s business can come from that and games like World of Warcraft are based solely on subscription fees and virtual goods purchases.

“MyYearBook, the most relevant comparison, is generating about a third of their revenue from virtual goods, and Facebook is ramping up their efforts, with up to 15 percent of their revenue coming from virtual goods,” he said. “There are no more free virtual gifting options unless they’re sponsored—Facebook is taking on some of the challenges in the space, which is great for us.

“Realistically, by the end of next year, 25 percent of our revenue could be coming from virtual goods.”

Merci Boku
Boku specializes in online payments using consumers’ mobile phones, enabling them to pay for digital goods and social experiences across the Web by entering their 10-digit mobile-phone number.

Boku’s goal is to bring bank-grade payments technology and mobile consumers together on the Web, creating an accessible market for consumers, publishers and carriers.

Boku is funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists Benchmark Capital, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures.

In addition, Boku has announced the availability of its mobile payments service in Finland, Indonesia, Slovenia and Taiwan, bringing the company’s global reach to 56 countries.

The company claims that is has 1,000-plus customers that use Boku as their mobile payments provider of choice.

In addition to MocoSpace, Boku’s customers include Sega, Hi5, Aeria Games, Badoo, Gambit, HitGrab’s MouseHunt, Hive7’s Knighthood, Icebreaker, IGG, Jambool, K2Networks/GamersFirst, LiveGamer, Meez, Netlog, OfferPal, PageFad’s Premier Football, Playfish, Slide, Sometrics, SuperRewards, TheBroth’s BarnBuddy, Three Rings, TrialPay, TwoFish, WeeWorld and Zoosk.

After switching to Boku for mobile payments, Meez, a social entertainment site combining avatars, Web games and virtual worlds, claims that it saw a dramatic increase in revenue.

Three Rings claims that it selected Boku for its Puzzle Pirates game because of the company’s global reach, ease of integration and flexible billing and pricing options.

Aeria Games chose to add Boku for mobile payments for its 6 million gamers to pay for virtual goods, and reports great conversion rates.

Boku’s mobile payments platform offers analytics reporting, flexible billing and pricing, as well as fraud and security management.

“All you do is enter your phone number and you’re done—imagine a check-out screen with only one field,” said Ron Hirson, cofounder and senior vice president of products and marketing, Boku, San Francisco. “Our clients are seeing really great conversion rates because it is so in-line—most implementations are integrated as part of the overall experience.

“We’re very clear about the pricing, and if there are [carrier] network fees, we’re clear about that as well,” he said. “Clients see extremely high conversion rates compared to traditional payment models, because it’s just easier to pay by entering your phone number.

“Most people know their phone number, but they don’t know their credit card number off the top of their head.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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