More on mobile payment front: Boku steps it up

Competing for market share with rival Zong and a few others, the start-up says new partnerships give it access to 200 million new user accounts. (But do they all pay?)

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

The simple concept of having virtual-good payments in games sent directly to your cell phone bill has gotten a lot of buzz--and stirred up a lot of rivalry. One of the start-ups looking to pull this off, Boku, announced Monday that it has signed on a dozen new gaming partners, both a few based on the Facebook platform and some others that are either Web-based or desktop downloads.

The partner companies are Waves, Cie Studios, Cyberstep, GameDuell, IGG, King.com, NHN USA, Ntreev, Outspark, PerfectWorld, Snap Interactive, and Zoosk. Most of them aren't household names: they're game manufacturers, not the games themselves, and some of them are most prominent outside the U.S.

There are a handful of companies trying to grab market share in this space, but the two who have been most vocal about making inroads have been Boku and rival Zong, which last month announced that it would allow members to sync credit cards with their phone numbers, allowing for larger payments and putting the company closer to direct competition with the likes of PayPal.

Boku says it's sticking to the mobile-number-only strategy, choosing instead to ink more deals and emphasize its global reach: with the current round of partnerships, the company says it will have 200 million registered users added to its ranks (no word on how active they all are, or how much redundancy there is across games).

Additionally, Boku has made some infrastructure upgrades that it says will improve the user experience, including the ability to detect whether a phone number that has been entered is landline or mobile--and if mobile, what carrier it's coming from.