Zong has been one of the pioneers in the mobile payments space, adding a compelling new way for consumers to pay for items online. Simply put, it lets you pay for things, particularly virtual goods online, via direct billing to your mobile phone. The company has steadily grown its offering through new products, major funding, deals with Facebook, and more. Today, Zong is expanding its mobile payments platform beyond the web to televisions, tablets, game consoles and more.
In case you aren’t familiar Zong works, here’s a quick tutorial. When a user wants to purchase a virtual item, he can enters his cell phone number on a site, the site sends a text message to the phone, the user confirms the transaction with a short reply, and all the charges show up on his phone bill. This entire transaction is powered by Zong. Previously, Zong was only available for the web and on Android phones, but today is expanding its platform to work in a number of environments, including Flash, Unity, Interactive TV, gaming consoles, and the mobile web.
Zong’s CEO and founder David Marcus tells us that Zong’s payments system is optimal on a variety of platforms, but specifically is receiving interest from developers looking to integrate Zong in TVs and game consoles. For example, Zong could be used to power payments within a game on a game console.
Instead of having to enter credit card and billing information via a remote (which can be a tedious process); Zong’s payment system would only require users to enter their phone number. Zong would then send a message to the cell phone number, the user would text back to verify security, and the payment will be included on the user’s mobile phone bill. Clearly this scenario could also work with movie rentals, and more.
Zong is also announcing that in-app payment system on Android has been expanded for use on Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablets. Marcus says that the seamless payment system (one-click) is suited for tablets that lack a physical keyboard.
Zong isn’t the only payments company eying the connected TV market. PayPal has also expanded its payments platform to be used with televisions as well.
The company, which faces competition from well-backed Boku, is currently in late-stage talks with a number of high-profile brands to incorporate its mobile payments system into other interactive platforms. “We made a tremendous amount of progress on the web, including Facebook,” says Marcus, “But now we are ready to expand into new customer types and other platforms.”