Bango, the company that provides billing transactions to the world’s leading mobile content providers, says that the lure of the growing US mobile market is proving to be rewarding for many of the UK’s leading mobile content brands. UK market leaders including Flirtomatic, Mobile Streams and Animation FC, have all launched in the US and are profiting from the availability of mobile search and advertising inventory along with sophisticated mobile web payments covering both on-bill and credit cards to maximize revenues.
“The beauty of using Bango for our US billing needs is that one integration with their platform gives us access to large number of paying subscribers across multiple US networks”, said Mark Curtis, CEO of Flirtomatic. “It supports the same browse and buy experience that powers the standard Flirtomatic offering which has enabled us to launch painlessly in the US.”
Mobile payments have transformed in the US over recent years. Bango – the company that led the development of mobile web (WAP) payments in the UK and other European markets has also been the pioneer of “browse and buy” billing in the US, launching WAP payments with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile US. This delivers a market of over 150 million phone users, with leading content providers generating millions of dollars a month in end user spend.
“The experience of building a direct-to-consumer mobile service in the fiercely competitive UK market is being translated very effectively into the successful launch of these services in the US,” said Anil Malhotra, SVP Marketing and Alliances at Bango. “The numbers in that market are eye-watering for UK companies: each of the top three networks individually gives access to a subscriber base bigger than the whole UK market put together. US consumers have completely bought in to browsing from their phones and are hungry for compelling content.”
Bango says that one of the challenges of the US market is the significant penetration of RIM BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile and other smartphones amongst ordinary consumers when compared to Europe. A high percentage of consumers using these devices use email instead of text messaging and cannot easily make payments on their phone bills. UK businesses have to think how to maximize conversion rates across this user base, especially as more people are using the ubiquitous Wi-Fi hotspots to connect to the internet.
“The traditional payment model – text to buy – actually means lower conversion rates than UK providers might be used to,” says Malhotra. “If you can nail mobile web payments across these users then you have access to a lot of users bringing a lot of revenue potential.”
One of the UK’s most innovative mobile content providers using Bango to grow its US business is mobile book publisher Go Spoken. The company’s offering is proving attractive to US consumers and to mobile network operators, looking for new services to promote to their subscribers. Their director of operations, Steve Crawford, commented: “By using Bango to deliver a consistent operator payment experience to all our customers we have seen a marked increase in sales”.
The US market has quickly adopted the internet way of doing things in mobile, with stalwarts such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft driving a lot of the developer and marketing momentum. The popularity of Blackberry and iPhone devices shows that consumers, equally, find the mobile internet an increasingly satisfying way to browse and buy.