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Telefónica makes strategic investment in Boku

The carrier’s digital division has announced that the mobile payments platform provider, which last month unveiled an NFC service for mobile network operators, is to become its preferred mobile payments partner.

BOKU: Preferred partner status gives access to 300m customers

Telefónica Digital has signed a strategic partnership with Boku and participated in the mobile payments platform provider’s latest US$35m funding round.

The move “is a significant development as Telefónica gears up for the launch of its mobile wallet services,” says the carrier. “The partnership opens up access for Boku to Telefónica’s global footprint of 25 markets and 300 million customers, while providing Telefónica with access to Boku’s expertise in secure and reliable online mobile payments.

“Boku has pioneered the use of mobile as a payments mechanism, creating a network of merchants and a method of quickly and easily paying for virtual goods via the customer’s mobile phone bill,”  the carrier adds. “Its recently launched Boku Accounts service expands this, enabling offline purchases in physical stores.”

Boku Accounts is an NFC-based turnkey white label platform, launched in February 2012, that carriers can use to offer subscribers a full suite of in-store payments and loyalty services.

Under the terms of the agreement, Boku will become Telefónica’s preferred mobile payments partner and Telefónica will extend its relationship with Boku across its operating businesses. “The partnership will provide Telefónica with access to Boku’s merchant network, expanding the number of places customers will be able to use their Telefónica mobile wallet for purchases,” the carrier explains. “It will also enable an enhanced user experience for online and offline payments, while also improving Telefónica’s own direct-to-bill capabilities.”

“Payments are going mobile and we want to be at the forefront of this trend,” says Matthew Key, chairman and CEO of Telefónica Digital. “Boku has quickly established itself as a true innovator in the mobile commerce space and this investment and partnership gives us access to their tools, infrastructure and know-how, ideally complementing our own mobile payments expertise. Working with Boku will allow us to both enhance our operator billing capabilities and the overall payment experience through our future mobile wallet services.”

“This partnership will benefit consumers in several ways, giving them a quicker, easier way to pay across all their connected devices and a better deal at their favorite merchants,” adds Boku CEO Mark Britto.

Other investors participating in Boku’s new funding round include New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures.

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