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1 February, 2020 - 20:09 By Tony Quested

Ray of sunshine as Anderson spearheads new era of growth for Bango

Representatives of some of the greatest technology companies on the planet attended the 20th anniversary celebrations for Cambridge mobile payments doyen Bango plc.

Bango is the payments power behind the thrones of such companies as NASDAQ trio Amazon, Google and Microsoft – plus Samsung and many more – and is colouring in more and more major areas on the map of major territories around the world.

As increasing millions of people order product across their mobile phones and assorted apps, so Bango expands what it calls its virtuous circle strategy.

As co-founder Ray Anderson would concede, Bango’s sphere of influence in its 20th year is more of a magic circle. Being inside the Bango circle means global merchants are able to work together with payment partners from Africa to the Americas, accelerating the performance of everyone on the inside. 

By bringing businesses together and powering e-commerce with unique data-driven insights, Bango delivers new dimensions of growth and new experiences for people around the world.  

Anderson has just stepped up to a newly created and expertly timed role as executive chairman of the business, handing the CEO reins to the exceptionally talented Paul Larbey. 

It is very much a planned succession and holds the promise of a fresh international surge in business for the company whose transactional clout and financial accruals could earn fan mail from Fort Knox!

Anderson’s full time executive role includes chairing the Bango board but importantly also focuses on developing the strategic partnerships with large global businesses in Asia and the United States that support the Bango virtuous circle strategy and maximise Bango commercial opportunities.

He will also be able to increase his focus on growing the early stage data monetisation activity of Bango via Bango Marketplace – and on the growth of the more autonomous Audiens business which is led by Marko Maras as CEO and his expanded team.

The success of Audiens and the brilliance of Paul Larbey are each answers to the question: Why now?

As we have reported previously ,Larbey joined Bango as chief operating officer in March 2019 having led the Video Division in Nokia following its acquisition of Cambridge-based Velocix. 

Larbey grew Velocix from a video technology innovator into the world’s leading IP video streaming specialist delivering critical services for the world’s leading Pay TV operators. 

As CEO, Larbey will lead the Bango team as it continues to capitalise on the significant growth opportunity from the Bango Platform and data monetisation. 

Ray Anderson said: “Paul has rapidly embraced the strategy and culture of Bango and as chief operating officer delivered excellent progress in 2019. As CEO, Paul will provide strong and effective leadership as we scale-up the business to meet the goals of our customers and partners.”

Founded in 1999 and listed on AIM in 2005, the Bango Platform is deployed with the world’s leading app stores. Bango is growing rapidly and is increasingly vital to leading mobile brands that support Bango’s vision: to make a frictionless payment experience available to every mobile device user in the world.

Bango was the pioneer of mobile internet payments, partnering with leading operators to launch ‘charge to bill’ services and opening-up mobile payments to early adopters and major content publishers. 

From 2001 to 2005, Bango established the ‘browse and buy’ model for mobile payments. This technology delivered a familiar e-commerce experience on a mobile phone screen. 

By 2005, when Bango floated on AIM, Bango had a broad section of content providers using its direct-to-consumer billing platform. The arrival of faster mobile internet connections and better devices gradually drove more usage of mobile services.

As the smartphone revolution became increasingly prevalent and app stores emerged as a primary distribution channel, Bango has become increasingly influential in the space, powering payments for many of the world’s largest app stores. 

Anderson says: “This had two significant impacts on paid content which combined to transform Bango’s business: Users discovered that smartphones were good internet devices. More than that, they were great for consuming and paying for content of all types.These smartphone platforms came with a pre-loaded content ecosystem.
Bango recognised its payments technology was as relevant to a global app store as to a global publisher.So the company focused its attention on the big smartphone platforms.”

In 2010 the company struck a deal with RIM to provide billing for its BlackBerry App World store. In October 2012 Bango announced that its total reach for mobile payments exceeded one billion users. 

By the end of that year, the first Google Play market to capitalise on Bango’s state of the art billing was launched. 2013 saw Bango’s first integration with Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store. In 2014 Bango launched its first live markets with Amazon Appstore and Samsung GALAXY Apps, as well as group-wide partnerships with leading MNO groups including Deutsche Telekom and Etisalat, cementing its place as the de-facto leader in app store carrier billing.

Pioneering carrier billing for app stores, Bango launched the first Google Play carrier billing deployments in Africa and Latin America in 2015 and in 2016 Bango technology was selected to open-up the paid content market in India.

Through an extended partnership with Microsoft, which covers all Windows 10 devices, Bango activated the first carrier billing launch for Xbox One content in 2016.

Unique post launch technologies Bango Boost and Bango Dashboard were launched in 2015 and 2016, proven to grow the number of paying carrier billing customers and increase payment success. Bango partners use these tools to grow their carrier billing business.

More major app stores have activated billing routes through the Bango Platform than any other carrier billing provider and today Bango technology powers more app store carrier billing deployments than anyone else.

New Bango CEO Paul Larbey

Bango now has an addressable base of over 1.7 billion. Only Bango processes carrier billing transactions across all four major US MNOs, representing more than 300 million connected devices.

The Bango Platform is designed to ensure that payment can be collected for any content or service, sold from any internet enabled device, using any alternative payment method.

Anderson is a self-confessed aviation anorak! He pretty much knows off by heart the service schedules of most global airlines, available routes and smart city2city connections. 

His encyclopaedic knowledge puts trainspotters and twitchers to shame and definitely comes in handy as he continues to circumnavigate the globe at regular intervals. 

What’s more, years of round-the-clock unsocial hours spent in airport lounges and in the clouds means he NEVER gets jet lag. And he says he sleeps really easily wherever and whenever!. So the prospect of adding many more air miles in his new role doesn’t phase him one iota. 

Anderson said: “We could have waited and done this element of our growth strategy in a year’s time but why wait? Paul has come in and done a brilliant job. I am as fresh and enthusiastic as ever to grow the business. 

“In the global scheme of things Bango is still a relatively small business but it is a very important one. Our global customers will look at us and ask whether Bango can continue to show energy and excel and help them grow their bottom line. The answer is an emphatic ‘yes.’

“We discussed a while back the time when Bill Gates questioned our business model: could the internet go to mobile? Well yes it could and yes it did. We are now on the fourth wave of progress – the data wave.

“Google 20 years ago started out with the big idea to target users based on search. Ten years later Facebook asked themselves what kind of things users were looking at and targeted what people liked.

“In our new data world there is a new paradigm: What will people pay for and can we guide people to make better choices about what they pay for? So ‘Search.Like.Pay – all these elements have come together in our new data age. Bango has helped identify and has ridden all these waves to remain influential and essential to many of the world’s leading companies in markets worth many billions.”

The journey has been charted on a ‘Wall of Fame’ at Bango’s Cambridge HQ but if the company continues to grow its bottom line and international influence in the next 20 years at an exponential rate then it will need much more space to display its exploits accurately and do its achievements full justice.

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