Independent mobile ad network, InMobi, has launched InMobi SmartPay, a mobile payments solution for developers of mobile games and apps.The service will be available in seven countries, including the US, UK, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Malaysia, and the company intends to extend its offering to 30 countries, by the end of the year. Through the system, developers will be able to offer mobile content and virtual goods, inside the mobile app across multiple markets on mobile web and Android in-app billing. The service will be commercially launched in Q3, 2011, but a private beta will be rolled out in 60 to 90 days, while select clients are already testing the service, according to the company.

How It Will Work

– Operator Billing To Begin With: The service presently offers payments through operator billing, however, InMobi plans to extend payments through credit cards, PayPal and mobile wallets by year-end. The company claims that setting-up mobile payments involves a one-time, no-cost, single point of integration process.

– Transaction fee? However, we do not know if it will collect a transaction fee on each successful transaction and how much would be the operator’s revenue share.

– Performance Tracking: The service’s USP is InMobi’s integration of its mobile ad-network, which will serve ads to users according to their purchase behavior, allowing them track ad to sale conversions. ” SmartPay is a ‘performance based’ payments platform that provides data and insights through an easy to use interface. It helps merchants optimize conversion paths, improve product offerings, and determine proper pricing to maximize ROI. You can also track advertising performance from the impression all the way through to conversion. The result is better ad targeting, higher conversion rates and improved revenues,” says Piyush Shah,VP, SmartPay, in an announcement on InMobi’s blog. InMobi SmartPay features secure technology to handle regulatory fraud, tax, currency, and settlements across all countries, the company claims.

Mobile VAS company, Tanla solutions also offers a similar in-app billing service, dubbed as TPay Mobile. It offers cross platform billing services and gives developers access to 100 mobile networks for operator billings in addition to Credit and Debit card payments.

Although, any new service that enables developers to monetize apps without having to get too much involved in the payment framework is a welcome move, we feel that the solution should not restrict itself to one single platform or payment method. Also, telcos demand a huge chunk of VAS and app revenues, so it becomes difficult for app developers to earn from app development. There is a need to come up with a monetization environment which is conducive to app development in the country and which does justice to the developer’s effort.

Our Take

Nikhil adds: It’s likely that payments will be extended across geographies through tie-ups with payment gateways, as an aggregator, rather than Inmobi trying set up its own payment gateway operations, because that would mean multiple regulatory approvals to be applied for, across multiple geographies. Still, this is Inmobi’s most ambitious project yet, and will serve as a significant differentiator in the apps space, because it involves allowing integration of conversions for content and services across geographies. Strategically, this is an important move since it allows them to move up the value chain. We’ll wait for more details from the company, but on the face of it – great move.

Related:
Tanla Launches Mobile Payments Service TPAYmobile.com; Airtel, Voda, Idea, MTNL