Online gaming firm Zynga, which has games like Mafia Wars, Cityville and Farmville, has tied up with MOL AccessPortal Berhad (MOL) to launch dedicated Zynga Game Cards in six countries in Asia: India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, in order to permit users to pay for virtual goods within the games. Zynga, as MediaNama readers might recall, is also considering SMS payment options for microtransactions. No announcements there yet.
The tie-up with MOL will allow Zynga Game Cards to be available at Sify’s Cybercafes in India, according to the announcement, which indicates a fairly limited reach. However, MOL’s website indicates a wider distribution of its cards India, including online banking: at Zapak Gameplex‘ and Reliance Worlds, ITZ Cash Cards, Ezp cards, online banking (via CC Avenue), OxiCash, Paymate, Paypal (though that option might not be applicable), and even money transfer co’s like Western Union, and MoneyGram. Users will have to register as MOL members, though.
MOL’s Role As An Independent Gaming Payments System
While we’ve written about Zynga’s plans in the past (and other payment options), what I find quite interesting is the role of MOL as an independent microtransactions payment system, aggregating multiple payment options and games across companies: according the the press release, MOL claims 60 million transactions with an annual payment volume of more than US$200 million, a network of more than 540,000 physical payment collection points across more than 75 countries, and with links to 88 banks in 9 countries worldwide. In India, MOL is collecting payments for games including Dance Mela (from IDG funded Kreeda games), Classic Rummy, Ace2Three, and more interestingly, with sites retailing mobile content – sites like VibrantGames, which also sells virtual items. What MOL is doing, is essentially providing users with a payment option outside of the telecom operator ecosystem. While transaction sizes may not be particularly high, it’s good to see an alternate in the market. They could well extend this facility to all sorts of transactions, thus creating a separate currency for purchase.
How Would Regulations Cover Payment Aggregators?
Would MOL have to register as a pre-paid cash card, since it is creating a separate currency for making payments, and cash equivalents MOLPoints, are being used to buy not only virtual goods, but mobile games (on VibrantGames). While it can be said that it’s merely aggregating payment systems like Itz Cash etc, it is still playing the role of a semi-closed payment system. Tricky, but our take is that MOL will have to apply for a license.