Report: Facebook/Bango deal points to mobile payments, operator billing
Mobile payment and analytics solutions firm Bango has signed an agreement to provide payment services to Facebook. The terms of the deal were not disclosed--according to Bango's terse announcement, its board "believes it is too early in the relationship to accurately forecast the level of business which it may generate."
Multiple outlets including The Financial Times report the deal likely heralds the imminent introduction of in-app payment services and operator billing options across Facebook's growing mobile platform. Bango supplies white-label billing and analytics services for mobile app, mobile web and app store partners including Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry App World, EA Mobile and Gameloft; last year, the firm also inked a deal with Amazon.com, fueling speculation the digital retailer will lean on Bango to bring new payment options to its Appstore for Android and Kindle Fire tablet.
With more than 425 million users worldwide accessing its social networking services via mobile device each month, Facebook recently expanded its Facebook Platform APIs and developer tools to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and the mobile web. The browser-based HTML5 platform effectively circumvents Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market, as well as associated publisher fees. Analysts say that more seamless, efficient billing options will not only improve the mobile user experience in developed nations but are even more critical to establishing a foothold in emerging markets, where many consumers do not carry credit cards.
Facebook filed IPO paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, indicating plans to raise $5 billion. International Financing Review notes that Facebook's filing timetable indicates the IPO process likely will conclude in May 2012. Recent trading of Facebook stock on private exchanges points to a valuation of more than $80 billion; last year, the firm reported revenues of $3.7 billion, driven by online advertising and sales of virtual goods.
But Facebook acknowledges that it faces challenges monetizing its mobile efforts. "We currently do not show ads or directly generate any meaningful revenue from users accessing Facebook through our mobile products," Facebook wrote in its IPO filing. "We are devoting substantial resources to developing engaging mobile products and experiences for a wide range of platforms, including smartphones and feature phones. In addition, we are working across the mobile industry with operators, hardware manufacturers, operating system providers, and developers to improve the Facebook experience on mobile devices and make Facebook available to more people around the world. We believe that mobile usage is critical to maintaining user growth and engagement over the long term."
Reports indicate Facebook also plans to roll out a mobile advertising platform early next month. Facebook will hold an event for marketers on Feb. 29 in New York City; The Financial Times states the company is expected to introduce additional advertising opportunities as it looks to persuade brands to increase their marketing spend across the platform. Facebook declined to comment, but its IPO filing reveals "We believe that we may have potential future monetization opportunities such as the inclusion of sponsored stories in users' mobile News Feeds."
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