Bango the rising son as new era dawns for Amazon billing in Japan
Cambridge mobile payments pioneer Bango has notched arguably its greatest coup to date by enabling a new payment method for Amazon customers in the multi-billion dollar Japanese e-commerce sector.
Japan is the world’s biggest market for carrier billing driven by commercially astute mobile operators. Amazon is number one e-commerce company in Japan.
The combination of those two market dynamics enables UK trailblazer Bango to pack more muscle onto the bottom line while leveraging potential new retail markets for its technology.
But this is more than a pure revenue success and kudos uptick for Bango. In parallel with the Amazon Japan bonanza, Business Weekly understands Bango is pursuing approaches that will create fresh opportunities in general retail and even media sector revenue generation arenas.
It is discussing potential alliances with utilities companies, media moguls and other players – maybe even superstores over time – that would allow customers to, say, add £10 or $10 to their bill to include the cost of CDs, films or other downloadable online content enabled by Bango mobile billing.
Stacked up, that could lead to millions of dollars of extra revenue for Bango worldwide feeding directly to the bottom line and further bolster its reach to billions of customers worldwide.
Bango CEO Ray Anderson believes the Amazon Japan deal is one of the company’s greatest triumphs and potentially transformational in the next phase of the company’s continuing global scale-up.
Bango has enabled Amazon customers with a KDDI (au) or NTT DOCOMO mobile phone account so they can now pay for physical goods from Amazon.co.jp, by charging the cost to their mobile phone bill.
Adding carrier billing as a payment option increases choice for customers in Japan, making it easy to complete purchases – whether they be clothes, household goods or downloadable entertainment and technology. Selecting this payment method enables instant purchase completion without needing to register card details online.
Charging online payments to a phone bill is a widely-adopted payment method in Japan, where mobile usage is deeply embedded into business and culture.
The Japanese market has pioneered carrier billing, offering it as a simple and secure payment method, enabling more consumers to purchase goods and services, online and in retail stores. It is a highly effective way to engage new customers and is popular with younger consumers.
The payment method has already opened-up to purchase goods on Amazon.co.jp, greatly increasing the range of products that can be charged to the phone bill by KDDI and NTT DOCOMO customers, who cover around 75 per cent of all mobile subscribers in Japan.
Anderson said: “Internet usage in Japan is mobile-first, with billions of dollars in online purchases charged to Japanese consumers’ phone bills. The Bango Platform ensures global retailers can offer these customers the trust and transparency they want from a payment method, and can deliver this at scale.”
To use this payment option, a KDDI or NTT DOCOMO subscriber simply adds carrier billing as a payment option in their Amazon.co.jp account and then purchases can be made from any device, with the cost charged to their post-paid phone bill.
Besides Amazon, global stores plugging into the Bango Platform include those of Google, Facebook and Microsoft: “Technology kings of the world,” Anderson calls them.
Bango also partners with leading payment providers across the planet to drive new users and revenues through its industry-leading mobile payment platform.
Anderson said: “It is an immense sense of pride to be a chosen partner for these global technology ‘killer’ companies. There is also a belief that we are only just beginning to realise the potential for the Bango payment platform.
“There is massive headroom in the technology and we may have under-estimated the end user spend we can comfortably cope with – even before we introduce any further upgrades to the platform.”
Bango said in March that its platform could comfortably handle $2bn of end user revenues per year – which was 10X the previous year. The company is expected to announce in the next few months that its capacity for transaction handling has escalated still further.
While it is recruiting extra staff to meet soaring global demand it is under no pressure to open fresh facilities in other global territories or to dramatically finesse its business model to ensure exponential growth.
This is another source of pride to Anderson in Bango’s 17th year of business with a push into profit seemingly assured by the end of this year.
“The technology is there to achieve all our targets without a radical change in the business structure,” he says.
“The inevitable revenue increases are enormously reassuring as a quoted company but I take tremendous satisfaction in that we can continue to achieve meaningful organic growth without the pressure of having to raise additional capital.”
Anderson’s pedigree as an entrepreneur underpins Bango’s potential as a future $1bn Cambridge company. He has scaled successively in every business iteration, reaching 10s then hundreds of thousands of end users through Torch Computers; millions through IXI and now billions with Bango, defying the doomwatch prediction of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates that he doubted the commercial potential for the convergence of mobile phones and internet technology.
Anderson said: “Steve Ives, the Cambridge technology entrepreneur, called me and pointed out the staggering growth in internet and mobile usage and I determined to put together a business that would harness both of those trends. Bill Gates did his best to dissuade me, along with most of Silicon Valley’s great and good.
“Today, we can count Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook among our global customers. They are all kings of the technology world and it brings enormous satisfaction, beyond any financial rationale, to realise that they all rely on Bango technology in a rapidly growing area of digital revenue generation.”
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Bango CEO, Ray Anderson