Fortumo, a mobile payments firm has partnered with Safaricom to launch carrier billing in Kenya for digital content merchants in a move that will see over 18 million Safaricom customers make payments online and inside mobile apps by charging purchases to their mobile phone bill.
This will help developers or digitial content creators monitize their apps or content easily and as well allow users to buy content such as games and ringtones with ease.
In a statement, Gerri Kodres, Chief Business Officer of Fortumo said,“Emerging markets like Kenya have become the biggest drivers of smartphone growth globally as cheap smartphones are becoming available to millions of people in growing economies. Meanwhile, digital content merchants are struggling to generate revenue from these users due to low credit card penetration. Here Fortumo helps solve the issue for merchants by allowing any person – banked or unbanked – to make payments online through carrier billing instead.”
Kenya follows Nigeria and South Africa as the 3rd country where Fortumo has launched carrier billing in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Fortumo payments are available in 15 markets in the Middle Eastern & African region. In June 2014, Fortumo also launched its billing platform in Bahrain, Iraq and Oman. With the fast growth of smartphones, Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to become interesting for global app stores like Google Play and Microsoft Store who (due to low amount of credit cards in the region) are likely to rely heavily on carrier billing.
In addition to working with digital content merchants, Fortumo has also partnered with OEM-s like ZTE, Gionee and Oppo who produce smartphones for emerging markets. Thanks to Fortumo’s direct carrier billing connection, these OEM-s will be able to generate revenue from content preloaded onto their smartphones.
The deal is similar with Safaricom’s and Microsoft East Africa’s agreement to enable operator billing, albeit for only Windows apps. Airtel is also said to be working on an operator billing service for its subscribers.
Fortumo allows any merchant to set up payment processing for web and mobile services, games or apps. Users with a mobile phone are then able to make one-click payments using Fortumo without the need for a credit card – payments are charged to their mobile operator bill instead. Fortumo payments are cross-platform and work in PC applications, web services and HTML5, Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps. Fortumo supports payments in 83 countries through 300 mobile operators, including a number of exclusive direct carrier billing partnerships.