Boku Set to Break Open Mobile Payments

Merchants and marketers have long awaited the arrival of mobile commerce. After many false starts we finally seem to be at a tipping point. So just how soon are consumers going to be able to replace not just the cash, but also the credit cards in their wallets with the swipe of a cell phone?

If deals between some tech companies and wireless carriers go through, it may be as soon as 2011.

BOKU seems to be at the front of the line, already setting up deals with AT&T, but even BOKU’s people don’t expect broad use at first. An AT&T/BOKU deal is expected to be announced soon.

Ron Hirson, BOKU’s Senior Vice President of Marketing told PC World that the expectation is for “small pockets of mobile payments next year, and broader adoption of the technology in 2012.”

The biggest barriers are going to be getting the merchant to accept the payments and getting the credit card companies on board. What BOKU is selling is essentially a chip that lives in your phone and acts as your credit card.

According to a story in, the different providers are all clamoring for a mobile payment solution since this will quickly inject them into the transaction equation, a huge profit stream in an already ultracompetitive phone market.

“Cutting out credit cards is a concept that has been around for 10 years,” said one Wall Street analyst to

Google and T-Mobile are looking at ways grab some of the mobile billing market before it hits its peak, while Verizon is already working with BilltoMobile.

Mobile billing is going to grow as smartphone continues to become more and more ubiquitous for consumers. When it comes to mobile movies, games on demand or digital items to purchase, customers are going to want ease of use for buying those items.

If you are on your phone and can get a premium game item, in-game and only have to use one-click to pay, that will be preferable to stopping, pulling out your credit card and inputting your number.

Speed, ease-of-use and access to the information is going to rocket the mobile billing sector in the short time to come.

About Mike Koehler

Mike Koehler is the New Media Director for Schnake Turnbo Frank | PR, the largest and oldest public relations firm in Oklahoma. Mike consults with clients about the best use of tools on the Internet, Web strategy and social media policy. Mike blogs regularly at and is working on his first book to be published in 2010. Mike lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and three kids.

You can find Mike on Twitter: @mkokc.

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  2. […] Mobile payment services such as Boku, and an unprecedented joint venture bringing arch-rivals ATT, T-Mobile, and Verizon together to form ISIS, a national mobile commerce network, are two of the developments that promise to revolutionize consumer payment habits. […]