Jambool Talks About Localized Currencies, User Statistics and Fraud

Jambool, the payments startup that offers in-game payments on Facebook through a product called Social Gold, recently announced that it has begun offering international currencies for players in other countries. Localized currencies are becoming more important for payments in social gaming, especially with the ever more international audience on Facebook.

The first nine currencies Social Gold is supporting, including the US dollar, are all from either English-speaking countries like Australia or Western European countries like Sweden. But the end plan for Jambool, along with its rivals, is to allow payments from many more of the world’s 150+ currencies.

Vikas Gupta, the co-founder of Jambool, says that offering local currencies is important for selling virtual goods in markets beyond the US. “People will pay more in their local currencies because it’s more clear to them what they’re getting,” Gupta told us earlier this week.

However, he recommended against also trying to tailor the prices to local markets. “If you change prices for different geographies, you’re encouraging fraud,” Gupta said. “I don’t think there’s any need to. You see people paying 50 percent more of their disposable income in a country like China, on games, than they do in the US. That speaks volumes, I think.” What Gupta does recommend is localizing the language and features of games that have large international audiences.

We spoke to Gupta after his panel at that Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco, where he also gave out some recent statistics from the games his company works with. Purchasing rates are still low, with often times  only couple percent of players making a purchase at all, but a growing number of people that make an initial purchase will buy more.

Following the first purchase 56 percent will buy again, according to Jambool, while another 25 percent will make two or more purchases. The average amount purchased across all these groups is $60, while there’s a significant group of “whales” who spend over $1,000.

Social Gold takes an average 7-10 percent cut from the developers it works with, which includes any fees charged by the end payment companies it works with, like PayPal, Visa or the recently-launched “virtual debt” company, Kwedit. By comparison, the in-house Credits that Facebook pushes take about 30 percent, although apps that use Credits get special promotion in Facebook’s Games Dashboard, and other benefits, like Facebook’s brand.

Along with the increased likelihood of a purchase from international users if they can pay in their own currency, Gupta also says that having an in-game option for a single-click purchase triples the likelihood of a user buying a virtual item. In general, streamlining payments is key for attracting impulsive purchases.

Besides offering advice and design support to game developers, Gupta says that fraud prevention is also growing in importance. More fraud is tied in part to having a more international audience, but it will also be more of a problem if social games become more like MMOs, a trend Gupta expects to take place.

Today, fraud still isn’t much a risk to developers, because virtual currency is usually only good for a single player. But games with more direct interaction between players and second-hand markets for goods quickly find fraud to be a real problem. “As the ecosystem developers, it’ll be a bigger challenge,” Gupta says.