Gaia and Zong: Mobile Payments for Virtual Worlds

Virtual goods is becoming a booming market, so it only makes sense that those thriving on this intangible economy will want to make earning revenue an easier task. Gaia Online, one of the more established virtual communities for teens, has teamed up with Zong to do just this. Zong features a mobile payment platform enabling users to pay with their cell phone numbers instead of with credit card information having to be entered online.

Gaia already had a vibrant virtual goods marketplace. With its own Gaia Cash as its in-house virtual currency, teens have long been supporting virtual economies for addon features, access to limited items, game-related virtual goods, and more.

The onset of mobile payment options also means that the potential number of users that are able to purchase virtual goods is immediately expanded and has a larger capacity to expand on a global scale. And we’re seeing a number of online services accept mobile payments as one of several options for making a purchase. Whether integrated within a social network such as Facebook or as part of a standalone game or website, having a variety of payment options means that publishers and developers are able to rely less on direct advertising and can generate revenue in a more direct manner from consumers.

To this end we’ve seen a handful of payment platforms incorporate mobile payments as part of their suite of services, creating a one-stop-shop as far as integrated platforms go. Boku is another recent player to join the mobile payments game, having acquired two existing mobile payment platforms in an effort to erect and expand its startup, which received $13 million in venture backing.