Boku, Inc. (LSE: BOKU) provides a mobile payments platform headquartered in San Francisco, CA, enabling consumers to pay for goods and services using their mobile phone number, with purchases billed to a consumer’s mobile network operator bill.
This form of mobile payment, also referred to as carrier billing, allows unbanked consumers who may have a mobile phone, but no credit card or traditional bank account, to make purchases online, as well as banked customers who simply find carrier billing a simpler way to transact. The majority of transactions processed through Boku carrier billing are for digital and virtual goods and services, including music streaming, online video, digital subscription services, mobile device app stores, social and free-to-play games, virtual goods, social networks and other online experiences. Boku focuses on making the mobile phone number a viable payment option not only for virtual goods, but for digital goods (i.e. MP3’s, eBooks, movies, etc.) and physical goods.
Originally called Vidicom Ltd, and founded in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, U.K. in 2003 by Glyn Smith, Thomas Kirk and original angel investors Dr Steven Gillam, Philip Meakin and Chris Harris. A small number of investors joined before Vidicom Ltd was convinced by non exec board Chairman Mark Berntstein to seek funding from venture capitalists in Silicon Valley for its application “Mobillcash”. Vidicom successfully secured funding from Khosla Ventures (US) and Index Ventures (UK) Marc Britto and Ron Hirson’s services were secured and Vidicom Ltd incorporated Boku inc as a Delaware company in 2009 and reestablished itself as Boku Inc. Boku launched in the US in 2009 with the internal acquisition of Mobilcash and new acquisition of Paymo – a provider in the mobile payments industry – as well as US$13 million in investment from venture capital firms.
A year later, Boku added US$25 million in a series C round, led by DAG Ventures.
In 2012, Boku raised another US$35 million round to be used to continue building out its payments business globally, led by NEA and existing venture capital investors.
The last round, US$13.75 million was completed in 2016 and led by a consortium of UK investors and GMO Payment Gateway to fund carrier connections for global expansion. In total, Boku has raised more than $91M in venture capital funding from Benchmark Capital, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, DAG Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, New Enterprise Associates, Telefónica, and GMO Payment Gateway.
Boku went public at the London Stock exchange (AIM) on November 20, 2017 with a valuation of 125 GBP Million.
Boku is connected to more than 173 carriers and has launched in 50+ markets offering a bank grade payment system to the largest global companies.
In November 2013, Boku announced the acquisition of Qubecell, India’s largest aggregator in carrier billing to grow India as its engineering and technology hub.
In 2015, Boku acquired Mobileview to strengthen its footprint in Italy, and Germany-based Mopay, one of its biggest competitors.
As of September 2016, Boku has offices in San Francisco, US (Americas HQ), London, UK (EMEA headquarters), Singapore (APAC headquarters) and several other countries (India, Germany, France, China, Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Latvia, Brazil).
The platform is used by digital marketplaces including Apple Inc., Google Play Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Windows Store, Facebook App Center, and Spotify. In addition, Boku has established partnerships with game publishers and online services. Many digital and gaming companies enable Boku’s service, including Electronic Arts, Riot Games, Tencent, IGG, King.com, Bigpoint, Goodgame Studios among others. Leading payment service providers (Adyen, Optimal Payments, Xsolla, and others) choose to offer Boku to their clients as alternative payment option.
Products and services
Boku provides businesses with the ability to put charges on end users’ phone bill. While the original payment panel product is still in place, Boku has expanded its capabilities to credit card like functionalities like charge and refund to enable cross platform purchases. Enhanced features, such as phone on file or header enrichment, offer consumers and merchants a more convenient way to pay. Boku also offers a subscription product, which gives merchants greater control and flexibility compared to existing market solutions.
Recognition and awards
In 2011, Mobile Trax awarded Boku their Mobility Award. In 2011 and 2013, Forbes selected Boku for their 25 most promising companies in America list. In 2014, Boku won the “Best Alternative Payments” award at 2014 Payment Awards
- ^James Quintana Pearce (16 June 2009). “Boku Raises $13 Million To Buy Paymo And Mobillcash; Launches Mobile Payment Service”. Gigaom. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Peter Kafka (19 January 2010). “Another Big Bet on Mobile Payments: Boku Raises $25 Million”. All Things Digital. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Ingrid Lunden (15 March 2012). “Mobile Payment Startup BOKU Raises A $35M Round. NEA, Telefonica Among The Investors”. Techcrunch. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Mannes, John. “Boku locks down another $13.75M to fund carrier connections for global expansion”. TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
- ^Gedalyah Reback (September 2016). “Direct carrier payments get a boost as startup Boku scores $13.75 million funding round”. Geektime. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Joshua Warner (20 November 2017). “DIRECT CARRIER BILLING FIRM BOKU JOINS AIM VALUED AT GBP125 MILLION (ALLIPO)”. Alliance News Limited. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- ^Lizette Chapman (21 November 2013). “Mobile-Payments Co. Boku Gets Indian Carriers With Qubecell Acquisition”. WSJ. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^“Boku acquires Italian mobile payment provider”. www.mobilepaymentstoday.com. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
- ^Tech Team (18 August 2014). “Mobile Payment Startup Boku Acquires Mobileview Italia to Expand Carrier-Billing in Europe”. The Fast Mode. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Ary Levy (October 2014). “No slowdown in payments as Boku buys mopay”. CNBC. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Justin Llewellyn (11 April 2016). “Xsolla & Boku: Gateway to Drive Mobile Business”. Xsolla Blog. Retrieved 19 September2016.
- ^Boku Buys ID Authentication Co. Danal For $68M, PYMNTS.com; https://www.pymnts.com/news/partnerships-acquisitions/2018/mobile-payments-boku-danal-merger-stocks/
- ^Paul Sawers (26 February 2015). “Boku launches ‘phone-on-file’ carrier billing to replace credit cards with phone numbers”. Venturebeat. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^press release (29 April 2016). “Spotify enlists Boku for carrier billing in Germany and Italy”. Finextra. Retrieved 19 September2016.
- ^Admin (25 March 2011). “Boku Wins the 2011 Mobility Award for Mobile Commerce”. Boku Blog. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Brett Nelson, J.J. Colao and Max Mallet (30 November 2011). “Americas Most Promising Companies”. Forbes. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Brett Nelson, J.J. Colao and Max Mallet (February 2013). “Americas Most Promising Companies”. Forbes. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- ^Scott Thompson (21 November 2014). “2014 Payments Awards: winners announced”. Retail Systems. Retrieved 19 September2016.
Ofer Abarbanel is a 25 year securities lending broker and expert who has advised many Israeli regulators, among them the Israel Tax Authority, with respect to stock loans, repurchase agreements and credit derivatives. Founder of TBIL.co STATX Fund.