Zong brings their “frictionless” mobile payment platform to Android

zong_logo_gradient_2010Have you ever been workin’ down on the farm — you know, just tendin’ your crops and livestock — when, all of a sudden, you realize that you need to buy a new tractor and some straw.  You rush down to the market, only to discover that you’re fresh out of credits.  Frantically, you click on the “Buy Credits” button and pay with your mobile phone.  Text received, pin entered, credits transferred, crisis averted. Whew!

If this has happened to you, then you’re one of about 2 billion users, worldwide, that have paid with the Zong mobile payment system.  Zong is integrated with the Facebook Credits system, as well as other big names in gaming and entertainment, like IMVU, Acclaim and Gaia Online, to name a few.  Today, Zong has opened up registration, for their private beta of the Zong Android Development Kit.

I had a chance to chat with Hill Ferguson (VP Product & Marketing, Zong), last week.  He started off by explaining Zong’s payment model on the web.  When the discussion turned to mobile, Ferguson said:

The first days with iPhone, and now with Android, were primarily an “app store” and pay-per-download model.  We see that evolving much the same way that the web did, in terms of a business model.  Developers will be able to take advantage of having a free-to-download game or application, and then can monetize through in-app purchases, be it virtual currency, digital goods, or premium service offerings.  The key is that it’s easy.

Here is a demo video, showing off a the user experience.

As zong_button_red_04a user, you will be able to pay for virtual goods and services just by tapping a button within the app.  It will verify your account and add the charge to your phone bill.  If you sign up for a Zong+ account, you can also link a credit or debit card.  See more details here.

As a developer, you will be able to offer a super easy payment method for your users.  All you have to do is sign up for a Zong merchant account, use the Zong Android SDK to integrate the payment menthod into your app, and you’re in business.  No need to deal with processing credit cards on your end.  Zong takes care of all of the carrier billing mumbo-jumbo and cuts you a check, directly, each month.  The SDK is free, and there are no setup or monthly fees.  Once you get rolling, you’ll receive 70% (on average) for each transaction.  This is pretty much industry standard.  Exact transaction fees vary from country to country.  See more details here.

As you may know, in-app purchasing is still a bit of a gray area for Android.  Zong has stated that they will work closely with their developer partners to help ensure that their app still abides by the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement.

So, if you’re a developer, and are working on an app that could benefit by adding mobile payments, then head on over to www.zong.com/android to sign up for the private beta.  The mobile SDK is currently only available for Android (take that Cupertino).  Remember, this is for developers, so don’t go signing up willy-nilly if you have no intention of using the development kit.

Source: Zong

Press release:

Dorothy Jean
Brew Media Relations
(212) 677-4835 x. 12


Private Beta Begins Today for Integration of Mobile Payment Platform into Android Applications

MENLO PARK, Calif., June 2, 2010 – Zong (www.Zong.com), the leading mobile payments platform for sellers of digital goods and services, announced today it has created the first one-click mobile payment solution for Android and is opening a private beta for developers to integrate this payment option into their applications. The new payment solution creates a seamless experience for users who can now make a purchase within an application with just one click; no registration or log-in is required. The Zong platform automatically verifies the user, bills their mobile phone account and returns them to their application or game without delay.

Android handset sales have exceeded previous leader iPhone in the US, reports The NPD Group (1), while iPhone applications accounted for 99.4% of mobile application downloads in 2009 according to Gartner (2). Many developers have cited a lack of payment options as one of the major barriers to development and revenue generation on Android.

“Mobile developers have customarily focused on the iPhone because it has been difficult to monetize applications on Android. But now with over 100,000 new Android handsets activated daily, the market opportunity is growing rapidly and with an easy payment tool, developers will now be able to easily generate revenue from that market,” said Zong CEO David Marcus. “Zong already boosts revenues for many merchants of online goods and services and now we intend to bring the same benefits to handsets.”

Android developers can visit www.zong.com/android to request an invitation for the private beta. Approved Android developers will be able to download the Zong Android SDK for easy integration of in-app payment. Zong will work with participating developers to ensure that the software is integrated in a way that optimizes the user experience and meets the developer’s needs.

Zong works with thousands of merchants in popular virtual worlds, online gaming, social networking and digital content properties. Zong is the only mobile payments service that combines carrier billing with credit, debit and prepaid cards and therefore the first company to allow multiple payment options via the mobile phone.  For more information on the private beta or request an invitation, go to www.zong.com/android.

(1)                 The NPD Group, “Mobile Phone Track, 2010″
(2)                 Gartner, Inc., ” Magic Quadrant for Mobile Consumer Application Platforms, 2010″

About Zong
Zong is the leading mobile payments platform for sellers of digital goods and services. Its frictionless payment experience converts shoppers into buyers at rates up to 10 times greater than traditional payment methods. Zong leverages direct connections with mobile network operators around the world to provide a secure payment solution with unrivaled connectivity and service quality. Zong is the mobile payment provider for Facebook Credits and also works with hundreds of leading destination sites, such as Gaia Online, IMVU and Playdom. Reaching over 2 billion mobile users, Zong provides localized payment capabilities in over 30 countries in 16 languages. Zong is the only mobile payments platform that combines the high conversion rates of carrier billing with the low costs and flexibility of payment card networks. Zong is based in Menlo Park with offices in Paris and Geneva, and is backed by Matrix Partners, Advent Venture Partners and Newbury Ventures. For more information, please visit www.zong.com.

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