Zong Opens Up Mobile Payment Platform to All Android Developers

The well-funded Zong, the payments provider that lets you charge virtual goods to your cellphone bill, is perhaps best known for being a mobile payment provider for Facebook Credits.

Now, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is trying to become a powerhouse among Android developers.

In June it launched a beta program that allowed Android developers to integrate Zong’s payment platform into their applications. Once included, it was like adding carrier billing to the Android Market, where users only had to click a couple of times to charge something to their monthly bill.

That’s attractive to developers because consumers are infinitely more likely to buy something if it doesn’t require a lot of steps, like entering a credit card number, or a Google Checkout account–which they may not own.

In particular, Android has been slow to form partnerships with carriers directly to enable similar one-click billing, so this could offer some alternatives to models that are only ad supported.

Today, Zong’s Android payments platform is officially live. So, how easy is it? It claims that developers only have to install the code in their application, and once that’s done their customers can start charging to their bill without registering or logging in to anything.

Zong’s magic is on the back end, where it verifies the mobile user and clears the charge through the carrier.

During the private beta, Papaya Mobile claimed that the trial was really successful, with more than 50 percent of its game-playing customers picking Zong.

Zong joins other payment alternatives on Android, such as PlaySpan, PayPal and Boku. The mobile payments space is considered hot, and worth duking it out for.

Below, video of Kara Swisher’s October interview with Zong CEO David Marcus.


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— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus