Mobile billing provider Boku Inc. is expanding its reach into 14 new countries in Europe through a new agreement with Deutsche Telekom.
The move into new markets expands upon an agreement Boku established in 2012 with Deutsche Telekom in Germany, says Ray Ramillosa, vice president of marketing at Boku. The vendor allows consumers to pay for digital goods through their mobile phone bills.
"This grows our partnership in a significant way, with 140 million new subscribers" now having the option to make purchases through Boku, Ramillosa says.
The agreement falls in line with others Boku has secured to expand its services, such as a relationship with PlayJam that sets the stage for consumers to make purchases through smart TVs. Additionally, Sony PlayStation owners can use Boku to buy downloadable games and movies.
Boku is also exploring ways to support sales of physical goods, Ramillosa says.
"We are not yet set up for physical point of sale purchases, but we starting to get into the physical world," Ramillosa says. A recent partnership with the parking company Sunhill Technologies "is probably the closest we've come to date, but we are looking at the vending and ticketing venues as well," he says.
Boku established its partnership with Germany's Sunhill Technologies in March, offering a way for motorists to pay for parking with a mobile phone account.
Deutsche Telekom also launched a mobile wallet service in Germany, initially in the city of Bonn, were the telco has supplied nearly 1,000 contactless payment terminals to restaurants, shops and gas stations.
Deutsche Telekom is offering new customers 40 euros for use in MyWallet, which makes contactless payments through a Near Field Communication SIM card and has an accompanying prepaid card. All new handsets will include MyWallet.
Prepaid represents "a reasonably sized opportunity" for European telcos, since most mobile phone accounts in Europe operate on prepaid plans, says Richard Oglesby, senior analyst at Double Diamond Payments Research.
Deutsche Telekom has a 67% ownership of T-Mobile US, which began offering a prepaid card in January. T-Mobile US is also a partner in the Isis mobile wallet, which has strong ties to the American Express Serve prepaid card.
Boku will work on Deutsche Telekom affiliates in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Poland, Macedonia and Montenegro. In addition, service will be available in the U.K., Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.
Despite these new partnerships, Boku may encounter difficulty as it tries to enable other non-digital purchases, Oglesby says.
"When the sizes or volume of transactions get larger, you really need to be a bank if you are going to be the financing engine behind it," Oglesby says. "I don't foresee the carriers making this move on a mass basis around the world, although there may be some onesie-twosie efforts."