Like a lot of American tourists, Boku headed to Europe this summer but it came away with more than souvenirs. The mobile payments startup has signed a deal with Telefonica, the huge Spanish communications giant with almost 300 million subscribers, who will use Boku to power its payment API for BlueVia, its global developer program.
The deal comes a week after Boku signed partnerships with French mobile carriers SFR and Bouygues Telecom, which means the company now effectively covers all French mobile users through its existing deal with Orange. It’s a nice haul for Boku and it shows the work that the company is doing in impressing operators with its technical prowess, said Ron Hirson, co-founder and SVP of marketing for San Francisco-based Boku.
“I don’t think we’ve reported how deep our technical platform is, but this is a validation of that,” Hirson told me.
The BlueVia deal means that developers looking to deploy increasingly lucrative in-app payments in mobile software titles can tap Boku’s carrier-billing payment system for simple purchases. And it means fewer barriers for Telefonica users to make in-app transactions. The system won’t, however, work with the iPhone, which doesn’t permit outside payment systems. But it’s a nice win nonetheless for Boku as it looks to expand. It currently operates in 65 countries across 230 carriers and has been competing with Billtomobile and Zong, which is now in the process of being bought by PayPal.
It’s still up to merchants and developers to utilize Boku’s payment system, which is currently employed by 1,000 merchants. But as Boku expands and nabs significant carrier deals, it’s better positioning itself as mobile payment explodes. Juniper Research expects mobile payments to grow from $240 billion this year to $670 billion by 2015.