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Mozilla’s Firefox Phones Get Operator Billing Through Bango

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Mozilla has signed mobile payments company Bango to allow operator billing on the Firefox OS marketplace. That means that users on the soon-to-be-released Firefox phones will be able to pay for their apps via their phone bills.

This confirms a scoop that we had in February, where we first announced the Mozilla and Bango marriage.

Carrier billing is still not a common feature in smartphone app stores, where billing is typically charged to user credit cards, as it is with Google Play and the iOS App Store. But it’s especially significant in emerging markets, where credit card penetration is far from ubiquitous, and the prepaid segment remains sizable.

And as Mozilla positions its upcoming mid-range devices towards markets such as Latin America and Asia, the ability to provide carrier billing will help address the many unbanked users which don’t have credit cards.

Bango isn’t a stranger to large telecoms deals. The Cambridge-based firm signed a deal with mobile carrier Telefonica in January to power carrier billing for Telefonica’s services, covering the latter’s 314 million subscriber base.

The anticipated Firefox OS is Mozilla’s smartphone operating system based entirely on open Web standards such as HTML5. Mozilla is positioning it as an alternative for powering low-cost and mid-range devices, in particular by offering carriers more control over the inner workings of the phone, compared with Android, for example.

Bango raised $10.2 million in February 2013 to continue growing its customer base. It already provides carrier billing options to large clients such as Facebook, Amazon, BlackBerry and Opera, to name some, and says it has a reach of about a billion users.