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Facebook rolls out Bango operator billing in US, UK and Germany

Bango claims that its payment platform delivers an average conversion rate of 77%

Facebook has begun accepting mobile payments via operator billing, thanks to a new integration with mobile web payments and analytics company Bango.

The integration enables Facebook's mobile web users to purchase digital content without having to register their credit card details. Instead, the cost of the purchase is automatically added to their monthly phone bill.

Bango claims that operator billing has long been established as the most "conversion friendly" form of mobile payment, because transactions can be carried out with only a few clicks. However, unlike with other operator billing solutions, Bango users do not have to go through time-consuming identity verification procedures.

With "conventional" operator billing, the identity of the user often needs to be verified via text message, which can lengthen the purchasing process. According to Bango, this method results in only 40% of mobile commerce customers completing the transaction.

However, Bango works with multiple app stores (BlackBerry App World, Opera, Windows Mobile), content providers (CNN, EA, Cartoon Network) and operators (90 of them), and has therefore built up a database of 150 million "billable identities," which it makes available to all of its clients.

This means that a user who has purchased a song through Shazam in 2010 is likely to be automatically identified when they try to buy Facebook content in 2012, so they can skip the verification process. Bango claims that its payment platform delivers an average conversion rate of 77%.

"Facebook have realised that very high conversion rates are a key element of their appeal to developers and to mobile monetisation in general," Richard Leyland, head of marketing communications at Bango, told Techworld.

Facebook and Bango first signed an agreement to enable mobile payments back in February. The service is now available in Germany, the UK and the US, making operator billing available to at least 320 million phone subscribers, and will be expanded to other countries throughout 2012.

It is thought that the Facebook deal could indicate a new push by the social network into mobile commerce - a market that is expected to be worth $37 billion (£23bn) by 2016, according to recent research published by Informa Telecoms & Media.

Meanwhile, social commerce is estimated to reach $50 billion (£31bn) by 2020,according to the Jack Myers Media Business Report, with sites such as Facebook expected to drive this growth.

Bango claims that its presence across app stores, publishers and mobile operators is helping to drive the market for "single-click" payments.

"As the mobile web experience has matured and improved, consumers are increasingly keen to purchase digital goods on mobile devices," said Bango CEO Ray Anderson.

"By ensuring a frictionless payment experience, Bango technology is unlocking the business potential of the mobile web."

Shares in Bango were up 5% this morning, following news of the Facebook rollout.


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