What is Boku?

Shannon Andrade |

July 23, 2013

What is Boku?

If you are active in the world of online gaming, you’re probably familiar with Boku, the mobile payments company that uses direct carrier billing to power purchases of virtual and digital goods and services on the web and via mobile. The San Francisco based company launched in 2009 with the initial acquisition of Paymo and Mobilcash and has quickly expanded its global footprint to more than 68 countries and nearly four (4) billion customers worldwide.

With Boku, payments are made through a mobile phone and billed through the wireless carrier. When presented with the opportunity to pay with Boku, consumers simply enter their mobile phone number and authenticate the purchase through a reply to a SMS message sent to the phone – the transaction is then complete. There is no requirement for a bank account or even registration. In the US, the company has coverage with all of the leading mobile carriers including AT&T, Cincinnati Bell, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless and Virgin.

The company continues to grow at a rapid pace, having recently signed an agreement with Bigpoint SARL and Co., a Luxemburg based gaming platform with over 300 million players worldwide. Online gaming sites including EA, Sony, and IMVU use Boku, as does Facebook, offering a valuable solution considering that many of these sites’ consumers are younger and may or may not have bank accounts or credit cards. 

Businesses looking to add Boku to their payment options can integrate through a flexible API and they have the ability to customize the checkout flow to meet their specific business needs. Boku also offers a mobile integration via SDK via Boku I-Tap. Costs for Boku (and other similar services) range from 10 to 20 percent of the transaction, much of which goes back to the carrier.

New mobile applications continue to enter the payments marketplace servicing a wide variety of needs for merchants and consumers alike. With dozens of entries flooding the space each month, it’s our goal with, what has now become our ‘What Is’ series, to provide brief overviews of many of the new apps available. Giving merchants and developers an up-to-date look at the opportunities and technology currently available to them in the market today.