What Do Facebook, RIM, and Google Have in Common?
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is now accepting mobile payments for its mobile web service via carrier billing in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, with Bango powering the service. The option allows users to bill services like virtual gifts and game credits to their mobile phone operators, bypassing the need to use premium SMS or credit cards.
Bango provides similar services for Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry App World, Opera’s Mobile Store, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play, and has recently begun working with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Bango says it will be rolling out Facebook carrier billing to more countries later in the year.
The confirmation that Bango was, in fact, the company powering Facebook’s service came today in a regulatory filing that claims the one-click system results in much higher conversion rates among users, up to 70 percent, compared to 40 percent for other mobile-based billing services.
Announcing plans to introduce mobile carrier billing in February 2012, Facebook began rolling out the program in June, integrating Facebook Payments with the carrier billing option. Unfortunately, the rollout came a bit too late for Facebook’s stock. When the company went public in May, it had few services in place to monetize its mobile user base, and shares have traded consistently below Facebook’s IPO price as a result.
In its quarterly earnings report in July, Facebook said it had 543 million monthly active users on mobile, with 955 million on desktop, with mobile growing at a much faster rate. Desktop MAUs grew by 29 percent on a year-over-year base in the June-ending quarter, while mobile MAUs grew by 67 percent.
Facebook has since been monetizing mobile mostly through ad units, recently launching its own mobile ad network. The company also offers social and non-social mobile ad units, and early numbers have been encouraging, but today’s announcement shows that Facebook will continue to look for ways to cash in on its mobile presence as more than just an advertising vehicle.
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