Facebook, Bango team on carrier billing for mobile payments
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is now accepting mobile payments in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, enabling users to purchase digital content and charge transactions directly to their monthly wireless bill.
Facebook users can now purchase in-app goods like virtual currencies in a single click.
Facebook is rolling out the new mobile Web billing service in partnership with digital commerce and analytics firm Bango. The two companies initially announced their alliance this February, although the terms of the agreement were not previously disclosed.
In June, Facebook unveiled a more streamlined operator billing process for mobile Web applications, trimming the payments flow from as many as seven steps down to two--Bango tells The Next Web that the difference between the June announcement and today's news is that the service was previously available for developers to build around, but "now we're actually live for Facebook users to buy things and charge the cost to their phone bill."
According to Bango, Facebook users can now purchase in-app goods like virtual currencies in a single click, a process that eliminates the need for premium SMS messages or entering credit card information. Bango notes that its payment platform delivers an average purchase conversion rate of 77 percent, compared to 40 percent across rival mobile payment solutions. The company also supplies billing and analytics services for partners including Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Amazon, MasterCard, EA Mobile and Opera Software.
Facebook first vowed to simplify mobile Web billing practices at February's Mobile World Congress event. "The payments experience is broken for end users," Facebook CTO Bret Taylor said at that time. "We're unlocking the business potential of the mobile Web." Facebook and Bango plan to roll out the new carrier billing option to additional international markets in the weeks ahead.
In-app payments represent just one facet of Facebook's efforts to monetize its mobile platform. Last week, the social networking giant began trialing mobile advertisements across selected third-party iOS and Android applications, introducing banner and interstitial ads that direct consumers to mobile websites or app stores based on their profile and social media activities. Facebook is on pace to generate close to $73 million in mobile ad revenues this year--about 2.8 percent of the U.S. mobile ad market--according to research firm eMarketer. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) currently dominates the segment, controlling 55 percent of the U.S. market.
Facebook reported net losses of $157 million in the quarter ending June 30, its first as a public company, and vowed to right the ship with the introduction of new and improved mobile experiences. Facebook now boasts 955 million monthly active users worldwide, and 59 percent of that audience accesses the platform via mobile device. In addition, the number of Facebook users who accessed the site exclusively via mobile increased to 102 million in the second quarter, a 23 percent quarter-over-quarter leap.
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