Mobile payment platform Zong hopes to attract more clients and boost its user numbers by enabling payment with credit and debit cards. In the rapidly growing mobile payment space, Palo Alto-based Zong is looking to set itself apart by being the first to allow card payments via mobile — online businesses with Zong’s technology installed allow users to pay for products, content or online subscriptions by entering a mobile phone number on screen and authorizing the payment with a four digit PIN sent via SMS.
Until now payments have been charged to shoppers’ mobile phone bills, but the new Zong+ system can be linked to a payment card instead — meaning that transactions are still activated via mobile but charged to a credit card bill instead of a phone bill. That means that Zong’s spending limit — which is imposed by mobile networks and is on average $100 a month — will disappear for users who sign up to the new scheme, opening up higher-end areas of e-commerce for mobile payments. The company’s payment system is used for apps on Facebook (via Insidefacebook.com) and MySpace as well virtual worlds like Gaia Online and Mochi Media.
But Zong isn’t alone in this space: it competes against companies like Boku and Nokia-funded Obopay which just announced it will allow online games payments (via VentureBeat). Then there is always PayPal which offers a B2C and B2B mobile service and Swedish tech giant Ericsson is about to launch a content payment system aimed at online newspapers and online games companies.
And millions of people across the world seem more than happy to do their online shopping the old-fashioned credit card-only way — Zong wants to build a mainstream consumer brand but mobile payment isn’t yet a mainstream activity. To get around that, Zong is offering reward points for credit card customers which can be exchanged for rewards for every dollar spent in the hope that consumers will break their traditional online payment habits.