Telefónica invests in Boku

16 March 2012

Telefónica Digital venture capital arm has participated in a $35m round of investment in Boku, a specialist in online mobile payments. The move is part of the mobile network operator’s (MNO) preparations for the launch of comprehensive mobile wallet services.

The partnership opens up access for Boku to Telefónica’s global footprint of 25 markets and 300 million customers, while providing the MNO with access to Boku’s knowledge and systems in providing secure and consistent online mobile payments.

Boku has pioneered the use of mobile as a payments mechanism, creating a network of merchants and a method of quickly and easily paying for virtual goods via the customer’s mobile phone bill. Its recently launched Boku Accounts service expands this capability, enabling offline purchases in physical stores. The vendor recently entered into a partnership with MasterCard as well, as revealed in our Mobile World Congress show report.

Under the terms of this latest partnership agreement, Boku will become Telefónica’s preferred mobile payments partner and Telefónica will gain access to the vendor’s merchant network, expanding the number of places customers will be able to use their Telefónica mobile wallet for purchases and the MNO’s own direct to bill capabilities.

“Payments are going mobile and we want to be at the forefront of this trend,” said Matthew Key, chairman and chief executive of Telefónica Digital. “Boku has quickly established itself as a true innovator in the mobile commerce space and this investment and partnership gives us access to their tools, infrastructure and know how, ideally complementing our own mobile payments expertise. Working with BOKU will allow us to both enhance our operator billing capabilities and the overall payment experience through our future mobile wallet services.”

Telefónica joined other investors including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures in raising additional funding, totalling $35m for Boku in this latest round of venture capital funding.

For more developments in the mobile payments and m-commerce arena please read our Mobile World Congress show report.

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