Friendster Owner MOL Takes Majority Investment In Rixty, The Cash-Based Payment Platform For Games

Some consolidation afoot in the world on online payments coming at you, with a little blast from our social networking past. Rixty, a cash-based payment platform for games, virtual goods and other digital content, today received a majority-stake investment from MOL AccessPortal, the e-payment subsidiary of MOL Global, the company that bought social network Friendster in 2009 and then converted it into an online gaming site, selling Friendster’s social media patents to Facebook in the process.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it looks to be a shares deal rather than one aimed at taking over Rixty: the founding team and past investors Javelin Venture PartnersAccelerator VenturesFirst Round CapitalFreestyle CapitalNueva Ventures and SoftTech VC  (who, along with angels, put up $1.25 million in a venture round for Rixty) are all remaining with the company as “significant shareholders.” As part of the deal, MOL’s CEO Ganesh Bangah, and Craig White, president of global operations at MOL, will join Rixty’s board. [First Round and Nueva, the company tells us, aren’t staying in.]

Rixty’s speciality is offering people who don’t have credit cards or are otherwise “unbanked” a way of buying credits to redeem online. It has 75,000 payment points in the U.S. and a further 66,000 in Brazil, and a total of 500,000 worldwide. It has partnerships with 70 game publishers who have integrated its payment service.

MOL, meanwhile, also offers users a way to pay for gaming and digital content credits. It is somewhat bigger: 360,000 physical payment channels across Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Australia and New Zealand, working with some 200 games publishers to integrate its payment services — through sites like Friendster, for example. MOL handles 60 billion transactions annually and  is on track to process $500 million in payments this year.

The deal will give MOL a way of expanding its operations to the U.S. and Brazil. Combined, the two will have more global coverage — particularly relevant for publishers looking to reach as wide an audience as possible with their paid content model. “As a leading e-payment provider in Asia, MOL is the perfect partner to complement Rixty’s payment infrastructure across North and South America,” said Ted Sorom, CEO of Rixty, in a statement. Sorom is understood to be in Malaysia at the moment working out the details of how the two will cooperate and integrate.

More directly to the future of MOL, the acquisition puts the Asian company into the backyard of Silicon Valley (Rixty is based in San Francisco), and gives it access to finding out about the latest technologies to improve its payment platform further.

One area this might cover is mobile. Both companies are already active in mobile, and in October MOL established a JV to start a new mobile payment acquiring company focused on enabling small and medium-sized businesses to accept credit and debit card payments using mobile devices.

Another area where MOL is already active and wants to do more is in virtual payments, a market it says is worth $19.2 billion annually worldwide. And we might even see Friendster make a re-entry into the U.S. market as a new gaming force as part of that.