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Payment Platform PlaySpan Raises $18 Million From Vodafone, Softbank

Yet another micro-transactions and payment platform has raised a significant wad of money. This time it is PlaySpan, which has received $18 million in a third round from Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) Ventures and Softbank Bodhi Fund, and existing investors Menlo Ventures, Novel TMT Ventures, STIC, and others. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company will use the cash to fuel expansion into Europe and Asia.

Over the life of the company, PlaySpan has raised $42 million and acquired a number of competitors. Today, it provides developers and publishers, like Nickelodeon and other game companies, a platform to manage micropayments, e-commerce, and micro-transactions in 180 countries.

PlaySpan is part of an expanding cadre of well-financed companies in the Bay Area that are pursuing the same goal: becoming the Visa or Mastercard, or perhaps more appropriately, the PayPal, of the mobile world. Of course, there’s also a number of entrepreneurial companies doing the same thing, like Zong, Payfone, Hi-media and Boku. While PlaySpan is clearly teaming up with European and Asian carriers with the addition of this round, there’s a separate U.S. initiative by the carriers to create a mobile payments platform.

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