Boku raises $35m from Telef贸nica and others, as the mobile payments race heats up

Boku raises $35m from Telef贸nica and others, as the mobile payments race heats up

Mobile payments platform Boku has announced that it has secured a further $35 million in funding from Telef贸nica Digital, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and a host of previous investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures.

This latest cash injection now means that the San Francisco-based startup has secured a total of $75m across a series of funding rounds since 2009.

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We first reported on Boku a couple of weeks back, when it launched Boku Accounts to enable transactions to be carried out at point-of-sale (POS) in stores, with payments being charged to the user鈥檚 mobile phone bill.

The new white-label Boku Accounts platform allow Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to issue their subscribers a branded mobile payment account (e.g. 鈥榁odafone鈥 or 鈥楾-Mobile鈥), which are accessible through mobile devices (Web, iOS, Android, and HTML5) and computers. Subscribers can now make payments online, in-app, and in-store 鈥 through a branded debit card or NFC-enabled POS.

鈥淏oku Accounts brings together the best parts of mobile payments and technology, leveraging NFC, smartphones and global payment networks for a better consumer experience,鈥 said Mark Britto, Boku CEO at the time. 鈥淲e are leveraging the power of the device in your pocket to improve every transaction you make, anywhere in the world, and helping our MNO partners expand into the offline world, while bringing tremendous value to their subscribers and merchants alike.鈥

The startup now operates in 67 countries, working with more than 250 carriers across 40 different currencies. Boku鈥檚 funding will be used to expand its team, broaden the infrastructure and continue its international expansion.

鈥淧ayments is an industry that requires scale, and in the three years since Boku launched, we鈥檝e grown rapidly to partner with more than 250 mobile network operators, processing transactions in 67 countries around the world,鈥 said Britto. 鈥淲e see this investment as a clear vote of confidence from our new partners at NEA and Telef贸nica. They recognize that we鈥檝e established a mobile billing system that offers bank-grade technology on a global scale; this strategic investment will help us expand our business as well as facilitate the growth of our new Boku Accounts platform.鈥

Telef贸nica Digital is the global business unit announced by Telef贸nica back in September 2011, to spearhead the telecom company鈥檚 digital growth, and it has also been investing in its startup accelerator Wayra with a view towards driving innovation. Its global HQ will be opening in London in the summer.

This latest investment is a telling one too, and it鈥檚 clear that Telef贸nica is committed to bringing mobile wallet and other related payments services to its customers across its businesses and through Wanda, its joint venture in Latin America with MasterCard.

鈥淧ayments are going mobile and we want to be at the forefront of this trend,鈥 said Matthew Key, Chairman & CEO, Telef贸nica Digital. 鈥淏oku has quickly established itself as a true innovator in the mobile commerce space and this investment gives us access to their tools, infrastructure and know how, ideally complementing our own mobile payments expertise.鈥

Key went on to explain that, in addition to the investment, it will also be embarking on a major global partnership with Boku 鈥渢o enhance our operator billing capabilities and the overall payment experience through our future mobile wallet services.鈥

We鈥檙e really starting to see some major innovations taking off in the mobile payments space, and whilst we鈥檙e still in the very early stages, this mammoth funding round is indicative of its potential. It could 鈥 and likely will be 鈥 huge. This is something we covered extensively in our Future of Online Banking feature from a couple of weeks ago.

With PayPal launching its new Digital Wallet at SXSW in Texas this week, Google Wallet hanging in the wings, Square making inroads, and Pingit proving popular for Barclays鈥 customers in the UK, 2012 is shaping up for a very big year in the mobile payments space. And with $35m extra in its coffers, Boku will be a major contender.

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