Boku, which allows users to make purchases with their mobile phones the same way they would with a credit card, announced today it is partnering with Vodafone UK.
Boku operates much like a credit card for purchases. Boku users that are on any of Boku’s 220 partnered carriers simply type in their phone number and will receive a text message to confirm the purchase. The cost of the transaction then goes on the user’s monthly cell phone bill. The Vodafone deal will allow Boku users to make purchases ranging from 5 pence to £30 — or 8 cents to $47, based on the current exchange rate.
The payment service is currently focused on micro-transactions, like virtual goods, due to the high fees that are associated with mobile payment transactions. A portion of the sale is transferred to the carrier to cover the cost of the transaction, much like a credit card transaction, leaving some vendors less inclined to adopt the new mobile payment option.
The San Francisco, Calif.-based company was founded in 2008 and to date has raised around $38 million from venture capital firms like Andreessen-Horowitz and Benchmark Capital. Boku has about 50 employees and competes with other direct payment companies like PayPal and credit card companies. Its most direct competitor, mobile payment provider Zong, already has a partnership deal with Vodafone UK, a Zong spokesperson said in an email. Boku has partnered with carriers in 60 countries and processes a transaction around once per second, according its website.
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