boku-qubecell

Update: Fortumo has informed us that it has several ways to connect to mobile operators in India including direct tie-ups and through other partners they can’ t talk about yet. The company also said that its offering is different from the competition as its customers can get access to over 300 mobile operators in over 80 countries, with coverage in a number of emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa that no other competitor covers.

Earlier: Carrier billing and cross-platform mobile payments company Boku that had acquired Qubecell has revealed via a blog post that Qubecell was powering its competitor Fortumo’s  offering in India. Estonia-based mobile payment provider Fortumo had inked agreements with Indian telcos to extend its direct carrier billing solution to India through Qubecell according to Boku. The latter clarified that this service will continue, but it needs to be seen if Fortumo will seek separate partnership of their own to make their offering differ from that of Boku.

It needs to be noted that all four operators charge 40% -45% per transaction from Fortumo indicating that Boku also has a similar, if not the same, deal with carriers.

Boku also disclosed that it has deals with Tiny Mogul Games (the gaming division of the Bharti Softbank joint venture), Eros Entertainment (for Bollywood movies and Bhangra music), LAVA Mobiles, Sony TV and TopDoctorsOnline on carrier billing. We had earlier reported on movie streaming site Spuul’s tie-up with Qubecell before it was acquired by Boku.

Through this tie-up, Boku claims to cover 61% of the mobile phone market share in India.  The company now has direct carrier billing market with direct connections to Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Docomo and Idea. It stated that its clients in India will be able to access consumers outside the sub-continent now through Boku’s base around the world.

The ex-Qubecell team were also in advanced discussions with carriers in the Middle East, which will enable Boku to establish direct connections in one of the highest ARPU regions in the emerging markets. So with the acquisition, through the combined reach of India, South Asia and the Middle East, Boku will add more than a billion potential users in these markets alone and worldwide total to over 4 billion.

In short, Boku completed a coup d’état in the carrier billing industry in India, which has been heating up to what now looks like a mini-victory parade by Boku. However, it needs to be pointed out that the other telecom players are only getting started with telecom billing so it should be interesting to see what happens in this space over the coming months.