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5 June, 2014 - 06:48 By Tony Quested

Bango and Etisalat bridge Gulf for app store ecosystem payments

Bango Ray Anderson

Mobile payments technology world leader Bango has agreed an extended partnership with Gulf telecoms giant Etisalat to accelerate mobile payments across the burgeoning app stores ecosystem that is opening up globally.

The alliance will enable direct operator billing across Etisalat's markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The established partnership between Bango in Cambridge UK and Etisalat in Abu Dhabi has already seen direct operator billing launched for users of BlackBerry World in 2013.

The new deal will deliver further app store integrations, the first of which is for Google Play, which is now live. Etisalat and Bango expect to be able to announce further integrations in a continued roll-out to meet demand.

Etisalat is the first operator to offer the service for Google Play users in the Middle East, where subscribers can now enjoy frictionless one-click payment powered by Bango, paying on their phone bill.

The agreement will accelerate the availability of charge to bill payment, connecting tens of millions of Etisalat subscribers to operator billing, while providing a massive boost to digital content sales across the region.

The Middle East is seeing substantial smartphone growth, with device numbers expected to almost double this year, from 67 million in 2013 to 112.2 million in 2014 (IDC).

New smartphone consumers in the region are young; 44 per cent of the population is under 20 years old and hungry for apps, music, games and other digital content.

With app stores racing to embrace the technology, Direct Operator Billing is emerging as a vital mobile commerce enabler, using the mass reach of phone and phone bill to democratise access to digital content.

While card ownership is widespread in the Middle East region, users are reluctant to pay online with cards, but operator-billed payments - without the need to register personal details - are popular.

Etisalat chose the Bango payment platform following a thorough competitive evaluation. The platform can offer operator billing even when the user is connected over Wi-Fi.

Bango has emerged as the de facto global leader in direct operator billing, powering many of the world's largest app stores, including Amazon, BlackBerry World, Facebook, Firefox Marketplace, Google Play, Windows Phone Store and with more than 130 direct operator connections.

CEO Ray Anderson said: “This commitment from one of the world's highest rated mobile operator groups is a key indication of the importance of direct operator billing to unlocking digital content sales.

“From today, millions of Google Play users can pay for their music, books, movies, games and apps with one-click. We are now working with the Etisalat team to connect the wider range of app stores through the Bango platform and will update on our progress in due course.”

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