BOKU Scales Up, Will Power Carrier Billing For In-App Payments In The T-Mobile Mall

Another big advance for mobile payments startup BOKU: it has inked a deal with T-Mobile USA to provide carrier billing for the T-Mobile Mall, the digital storefront operated by the carrier.

The deal is a signal of some momentum for the company: it comes less than a month after BOKU announced a similar deal with Sprint, and hot on the heels of a $35 million round of funding in March.

Under the terms of the deal, app and game developers — but most specifically games developers — that make content for the Android-based T-Mobile Mall will be able to integrate carrier billing into their apps for in-app payments — meaning the charges will go straight to a user’s monthly bill.

This is significant, because automatic billing potentially removes a barrier for users actually buying things in apps. T-Mobile currently has 34 million mobile subscribers.

T-Mobile will be using BOKU’s 1-Tap Billing SDK, similar to the one used by Sprint, which brings the payment authentication down to a two-step process that doesn’t require the user to enter payment details.

BOKU says that the commission it takes on its services are in the “teens” compared to rates of between 30 and 40 percent carriers typically collect on billing services for apps.

For a company like BOKU — and those like Zong and Bango against which it competes in the area of carrier billing — because it takes a smaller margin on services, scaling up and getting more customers is crucial to its success. BOKU says it already processes “hundreds of millions of dollars in mobile payments” across 66 countries and 40 currencies, and in deals with more than 250 carriers covering some 3.2 billion consumers.