Boku debuts mobile payment service for physical stores

Nathan Pensky · February 23, 2012 · Short URL:

Boku Accounts challenges mobile payment offerings from PayPal and Google

Boku Inc., an online mobile company, has announced Thursday the launch of an innovative new mobile payment service that can be used in physical stores, called Boku Accounts.

With Boku's mobile near-field technology, consumers can pay for goods and services any store equipped with the Mastercard PayPass Near Field Communications (NFC) payment system.

Previous to Thursday's announcement, Boku provided carrier billing through about 230 wireless carriers in more than 60 countries, including AT&T Inc, Vodafone Group Plc, and Verizon Communications Inc. Now this service lets users pay with their mobile number and get the transactions charged to their monthly phone bill.

Up to now, most of Boku's carrier-billing transactions were done on PCs or through mobile apps and were confined to typically small online purchases.

This development will open up Boku's services considerably, as well as ramp up the company's competition with PayPal, which is currently trying to push into a similar initiative, and Google Wallet, which is already partnering with Mastercard and Citigroup, Inc.

The company's release made a few distinctions between their offering and that of PayPal and Google. PapPal's mobile payment service requires a software upgrade and Google Wallet requires that merchants have NFC technology, according to the company.

The Boku system, meanwhile, comes with a sticker that turns any phone into an NFC device. It also has a card that customers can use at retail outlets that don't have NFC tech. “We wanted this to be available in any store,” said co-founder of Boku Ron Hirson. “You don’t need a new phone or a new terminal.”

The system also comes with a smart phone app that allows users to transfer money to other Boku users, and receive promotional offers and discounts from retailers.

Founded in 2009, Boku is based in San Francisco, with offices in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The company has, to date, received $38 million in funding from investors Benchmark Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Index Ventures, among others.

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes