Cingular working with Bango to open US mobile internet, the pioneering payment platform for the mobile internet, has secured an agreement with Cingular, the largest operator in the US, to integrate with its payment gateway. The deal will allow third party content providers to bill for their services without having to form a direct partnership with Cingular.

This is a significant win for Bango and represents the first time a US operator has moved away from the ‘walled garden’ approach which dominates mobile internet adoption in North America. Currently, all content providers and application developers have to work directly with network operators to ensure they can bill consumers for their services. Through Bango, developers will be able to promote their own ‘off-portal’ services and still collect payment for their services.

Bango’s model, which combines credit card, premium SMS and reverse bill payment processing, is attracting increasing attention. Following the collapse of Simpay – the multi-operator venture to develop a single payment platform – many European carriers are re-examining their third party billing strategies, while US operators are waking up to the potential growth outside the ‘walled garden’. As a result, Bango is witnessing strong growth and recently floated on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM), raising GBP 7m to fund its expansion.

Anil Malhotra, one of the company’s founders and VP of Alliances, will give a keynote presentation at MEX in the session entitled: “Delivering mobile services and building customer trust.”

Payment processing is an essential part of the user experience and closely linked to the intangible ‘trust’ a user places in a service. Bango’s approach offers third party content providers the advantage of providing a consistent experience, regardless of which network they are subscribed to, and a single point of contact for any promotions. In doing so, it encourages third parties to invest in their own promotional campaigns.

Many of the media companies which are now exploring opportunities in the mobile space have significant promotional channels of their own and don’t necessarily need to rely on network operators for marketing. Radio stations, TV channels and newspapers are all good examples of this new breed of content provider. The Sun newspaper, one of the UK’s most widely read tabloids, is working with Bango to deliver premium mobile services using the company’s integrated payment platform.

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