Obopay Taking Its Mobile Payment Platform to Social Games

obopay-logoObopay, a mobile payment company backed by Nokia and other big telecommunications companies, is getting into online gaming. It’s taking on companies like Zong and Boku that have aggressively been getting into mobile payments for virtual goods on platforms like Facebook and MySpace.

Obopay’s strategic investors — who have put in $126 million since the company was founded in 2005 — combined with a well-developed payment process, could make it a serious contender.

Like rivals such as eBay’s PayPal, Obopay lets people pay within a game using their credit or debit card. Or, like other mobile payment companies, it lets you pay using your mobile phone, and bill your phone account. But there are some differences.


Companies like Boku and Zong let you do things like buy a certain amount of virtual currency in a Facebook game via sending a confirmation message to your phone with a unique personal identification number (PIN) to use to complete the purchase, enter that PIN in the web interface and you’ll purchase the good. Your phone account will be billed and you’ll receive the virtual currency in the game.

While Obopay offers a variety of other payment services, here’s how it’s gaming one appears to be different. If you first sign up for Obopay, you’ll be able to use your phone and your phone’s PIN (not a randomly-generated purchase PIN number) within the web interface. So, there’s the extra step in signing up, something you don’t have to do with the other mobile payment services, but once you’re in you also don’t need to check for a random PIN

Obopay is also bringing significant strategic alliances to the table. For example, Nokia is using the company for its Nokia Money mobile phone payment service. This means that Obopay has been adding some number of users from Nokia, although we don’t know how many. We haven’t gotten a detailed look at the new Obopay interface yet — the service is live with some as-yet-unannounced online games already — but these users, we assume, won’t have to sign up in order to use their mobile number and PIN within games.

The company also has deals in place with large carriers including AT&T and Verizon, as well as other device makers like Research in Motion and its Blackberry line of phones. Given all these connections, another question is what sort of service-fee cuts it is taking from game developers. The company offers a hint in its press release:

The service also provides online merchants better revenue opportunities than carrier billing alternatives that require the merchants to give up a large part of their revenue to their payment provider and they can receive money from transactions faster.

We’ll let you know as we hear more from developers who are trying Obopay’s service.