Fortumo offers European developers operator billing in the U.S.

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European mobile payments provider Fortumo has extended its reach via a partnership with BilltoMobile which sees direct mobile operator billing available to Europe and Asia-based game developers targeting customers in the U.S.

Charging customers via their existing mobile phone bill, of course, is seen as key to making payments frictionless and increasing app and content sales. It keeps the carriers happy too since they maintain ownership over the customer relationship unlike, say, Apple’s iTunes or indeed Google’s Android marketplace. The other alternative for developers wishing to skirt around those platform specific centralised app stores is to use Premium SMS but that entails much higher transaction fees.

To that end, carriers that support direct billing reach about 70% of U.S. mobile users, with the rest falling back on the Premium SMS option. In total, Fortumo’s mobile payments is said to cover over 95% of all U.S. mobile users.

Like its offering in Europe, Fortumo’s direct billing in the U.S. is available for free – as in no up front costs – to all European and Asian game developers. Fortumo also handles the carrier approvals and technical integration and offers this up via an API and platform-specific libraries.

Perhaps best known as the mobile payments provider powering Rovio’s Angry Birds on Android, Fortumo has billing coverage in 50 countries and about 200 mobile operators. The company was founded in 2007 with offices in Europe (Tartu, Estonia) and US (Sunnyvale, California), and has gained over 49,000 registered service providers who have created over 156,000 mobile payments services to-date.

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