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Boku Combines Prepaid Card, Advertising to Get MNOs Into Payments

It's not NFC in the fully formed sense, but Boku has just announced a new service that should have some appeal to wireless carriers looking to enjoy mobile advertising revenues sooner than later. Tying up with MasterCard and IDT's bank, the Boku Accounts program includes a prepaid card or contactless sticker for the consumer that can be topped up via an app for a smartphone. Consumers will receive merchant incentives and, in turn, Boku and the wireless operator will as well when an incentive is redeemed.

For Boku, the potential beauty of this is in the mobile operator channel to recruit mobile subscribers into using the scheme. Boku and the MNOs who have the energy to do it will also have the hard work of getting mobile operators to participate.

There has been road kill along this highway before. But Boku's tight relationship with major wireless carriers should give it a leg up.

“Given the tight relationships wireless carriers already have with consumers, it makes sense that they should work more directly with merchants to leverage mobile payments,” Ron Hirson, Boku president and founder, tells PaymentsSource.

Significantly, the platform’s success would hinge on creating a broad array of customized merchant discounts and deals to generate additional revenues for Boku and participating carriers.

Using Boku’s platform, wireless carriers would send their subscribers merchant offers via Boku’s mobile app, text messages or emails. Consumers that opt to receive the offers and participate in the scheme would be prompted to sign up for a carrier-branded prepaid debit card account.

Initially Boku is backing its accounts with a Boku Accounts MasterCard Prepaid card issued by IDT, a Gibraltar-based bank. Issuing banks will vary based on geographic region.

MasterCard is backing the effort as its initial partner.

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