Facebook switches on operator billing for easy mobile web payments

One Click Mobile Payments

Facebook is enabling users to pay for apps through the mobile web on their mobile bill, teaming up with operators around the world to reduce the payment process to as little as a single step. Announcing the changes at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook CTO Bret Taylor indicates that Facebook is looking to replicate the ease of paying through an app store on the mobile web. “Right now the payments experience on the mobile web is broken for end users,” he says. He adds that the current process requires users to go through SMS verification when making an in-game purchase, plus developers must cope with different standards across different markets.

Facebook’s partnership with Bango should enable it to achieve the vision outlined by Taylor – namely that it should only take one click to make a purchase. The setup of Bango’s service means that it, rather than Facebook, is likely to control the payment mechanism, with CEO Ray Anderson telling StrategyEye that the mechanic works much like an app store – once Bango has collected the payment, it tells the content provider that it can “deliver the goods“. Although further details are not yet available, it is likely that Bango’s existing relationships with carriers will have smoothed the partnership process for Facebook.

If you’re in an app store and you browse round and choose an app, the person selling it has to figure out a way of collecting the money for that app,” says Anderson. “They hand over control to Bango and we say we can collect the money using operator billing, and we put up a screen with a single button on it which says ‘Pay’. You click the button, and we connect to the mobile operator and collect the money.”

Facebook is also working to standardise the mobile web, launching ‘Ringmark’, a mobile browser sandbox to give developers an indication of browser requirements for different apps. It will also head up up a consortium of firms to prioritise HTML5 standards. Advancing the capabilities of HTML5 browsers will be in Facebook’s interest, with Anderson stating that “more advanced web browsers” will be key to innovation in mobile payments as the app ecosystem shifts to HTML5.

HTML5 is the dream for advertisers. At the moment, advertisers are pouring bucket loads of money into things like mobile apps that you download. They are just a waste of time, a transitory phenomenon,” he says. “Why not just go to a web page – on a PC you don’t download software to do many things these days. Most people don’t download software to use Facebook.”

Facebook’s initial carrier partners include AT&T, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Verizon, Orange, Telefonica, KDDI and Softbank.

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