Telefonica Digital announces direct payment partnerships with Facebook and Google

The division of the global mobile operator confirms users can make payments to the websites billed onto their contracts

Telefonica Digital today announced partnerships with internet giants Facebook and Google so users can make payments to the websites via their mobile phones.

The operator, represented by O2 in the UK, will add any amounts paid to the sites to monthly bills or take the cost out of a user’s pre-paid credit to encourage customers to make purchases over their mobile phones.

Both the operators and firms involved in the partnerships believe it will help improve both their business plans and encourage further adoption of their services.

“Mobile payments are an important part of the business model for mobile web developers, but today the options are too complicated for users,” said Dan Rose, vice-president of partnerships at Facebook.

“We're excited to be working with Telefonica to implement a streamlined operator billing solution that simplifies the purchase process for its consumers and expands pricing options for mobile web developers,” he said.

As well as the two Silicon Valley companies, Telefonica Digital has also signed deals with Microsoft and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM), enabling in-app purchasing for mobile applications and games.

Tony Mestres, vice-president of partnerships for the Windows Phone division at Microsoft, said: “Direct-to-bill for Windows Phone makes it convenient for Telefonica subscribers to make digital purchases on their Windows Phones and also helps grow our app developer ecosystem with increased monetisation.”

The service is being rolled out across Europe first, where both Telefonica Digital and its parent company are based, but it will be live in 14 different operating businesses across the globe before the end of 2012.

Telefonica Digital was only launched as a division of the global operator in October last year to compete with over-the-top providers such as Skype and Facebook by offering its own services, including its mobile data communication app TU Me.

“Few organisations can claim to have a direct billing relationship with hundreds of millions of customers globally,” said Matthew Key, chairman and CEO of Telefonica Digital. “The creation of Telefonica Digital has allowed us to better harness the power of this capability and use it to help drive the mobile monetisation strategies of some of the world’s largest technology companies.

“We believe that direct-to-bill will become an increasingly significant part of the overall mobile commerce market.”

We spoke to the company’s CIO, Brendan O’Rourke for more details on Telefonica Digital’s business plans. Read the interview here.

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