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O2, EE, Vodafone, Bring Carrier Billing To The High Street

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Operators team up with payments provider Boku to offer new service

Customers on three of the UK’s largest mobile networks will soon be able to pay for goods using their phone number following a deal with a major payments provider.

Boku, which currently works with the likes of Facebook, EA and Spotify, has announced it is teaming up with EE, O2 and Vodafone to provide customers with carrier billing capability through its new e-Money solution.

This means that whereas previously customers could only buy digital goods such as songs and ebooks using Boku’s payment service, now they can pay for physical goods for the first time.

Customers need now only enter their mobile phone number at the merchant storefront to use the service and have the purchase added to their phone bill.

Boku logoNew era

Boku is able to offer this due to its e-Money product being a fully regulated payment product, and therefore goes beyond the limits that were originally set out under the EU’s Payment Services Directive (PSD), which was originally designed to facilitate the purchase of mobile wallpapers and ringtones.

“Up to now buying stuff and charging it to your phone bill has been restricted, limited to digital goods and operating in a regulatory framework designed years ago to handle ringtone downloads,” said Jon Prideaux, CEO of Boku. “We are now entering a new era for carrier billing. Boku has re-invented carrier billing as a mainstream payment method.”

“As an authorised e-money issuer, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Boku enables consumers to make purchases quickly and simply,” he added.

“Merchants who allow their customers to charge things to their phone bill sell more. Mobile Network Operators can offer an improved experience to their subscribers, with Boku bearing responsibility for the entire compliance envelope.”

Boku, which is based in San Francisco but has offices in Europe, currently operates across 67 different countries with more than 250 operators. Earlier this week, it announced it would be partnering with O2 to allow customers to pay for iTunes purchases using their mobile account, with payment being charged directly to their monthly mobile phone bill, or taken out of their Pay & Go phone credit.

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