Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has been jumping with two feet into the mobile world — launching an app storefront, an enhanced selection of cloud-based content, its own customized mobile platform and a tablet to run it in less than a year. Now, as the newest client of UK-based mobile billing company Bango, Amazon could be getting ready to introduce a new way of getting users to pay for all of that.
Earlier today, publicly-traded Bango (AIM: BGO) released a brief statement to the market to announce it had signed a deal with Amazon to provide the company with its mobile payment services.
The announcement was short on details, and a Bango spokesperson declined to give more information when we contacted the company by phone. But it looks like it could be a move by Amazon to introduce carrier billing into its growing mobile operation. A look at what Bango does already could be the clue to how it will work:
Bango currently provides mobile billing services for content companies and content distributors, which are integrated into apps, mobile web content and other content delivered through mobile devices.
The company offers two routes for payment: either via credit cards or by charging directly to a users’ phone bill. The carrier billing element is already used by two other app stores, RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and Opera Software (OSL: OPERA). Bango says it has some 80 agreements in place with operators worldwide, and when RIM, for example, wants to enable carrier billing with an operator in a particular country, it goes through Bango to get it done. If that carrier is not already a customer of Bango’s, Bango goes out to sign up that carrier.
RIM currently has 20 carriers signed up for billing through its own app store, and Opera and Bango have not disclosed how many markets the two cover together. Bango does not give details about how billing breaks down for app stores, although on other mobile content, it typically gives 70 percent of the price paid to the content owner, 20 percent to a carrier and keeps five percent for itself.
Again, the announcement does not give details about what services would work with Bango’s billing, so this could be about giving people easier access to buying goods more generally from Amazon.com via mobile web or its app.
But given the track record with RIM and Opera, it could (also) be that Amazon wants to use Bango’s services specifically for its own app storefront, which runs on Android devices, including the Kindle Fire, and was introduced earlier this year. The Appstore has yet to make its way outside of the U.S. and this could be one route to making that a reality, too.
As The Next Web points out, Amazon currently has its own in-app payment system in beta, so it’s not clear whether this billing system will work with that or separately. Bango’s solution covers both downloads and in-app purchases.
Amazon would certainly not be the first to add carrier billing to its services — this is already offered on Windows Phone devices, via Symbian and through the main Android Market, among other places. And of course, the company already has a lot of customer information for people who use Amazon.com to buy books and other goods and well as digital entertainment.
But adding carrier billing potentially widens out Amazon’s app store to make it more usable by a greater number of people who may not be using Amazon already, and gives the company one more convenience differentiator against competition from other mobile content players on the market.