Telefonica signs mobile payment agreement with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and RIM

By Sooraj Shah
06 Jul 2012 View Comments

O2 parent company Telefónica has signed global agreements with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and RIM to provide customers with a way to pay for digital goods and services directly through their phone bill.

The mobile operator said that eliminating the need for credit card payments on mobile would be a key way of driving downloads of paid content, particularly in developing markets where credit card use is low.

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The company has started to roll out the direct-to-bill payments capability in Europe and plans to have it live in 14 of its operating businesses globally by the end of the year.

It will allow users to integrate their operator billing with Facebook payments, while consumers would have the option of operator billing through the Google Play Store, Windows Phone Marketplace and BlackBerry App World store.

Currently in the UK, direct-to-bill payment for the BlackBerry App World store is only available through premium SMS.

Commenting on the agreements, Ronjon Nag, vice-president of storefronts and payments, RIM, said: "Our data suggests that customers' propensity to purchase apps on BlackBerry App World increases when this simple, convenient method of purchase is offered, so we're delighted Telefónica's BlackBerry customers can take advantage of this convenient feature.

"This provides customers with an easier way to pay for the content they download, and drives greater profitability for developers that create and market mobile content," he continued.

Dan Rose, vice president of partnerships at Facebook, said that he believed current options were "too complicated" for users and agreed with Nag that mobile payments was an important part of the business model for mobile web developers.

"We're excited to be working with Telefónica to implement a streamlined operator billing solution that simplifies the purchase process for their consumers and expands pricing options for mobile web developers," he said.

In April, O2 launched a mobile payments service to compete with similar offerings from Google, PayPal and Barclays.

It was announced in the same month that the European Commission said it would investigate a mobile payments joint-venture between Vodafone, Telefónica and Everything Everywhere.

The venture, dubbed Project Oscar, was criticised by rival mobile network Three, and according to the EC, if the venture went ahead other mobile operators could struggle to get a foothold in the mobile payments, advertising and related data analytics markets as the joint venture may have "very high market shares".

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