Fortumo, an Estonia-headquartered mobile payment solution provider, has reached partnership with China Unicom and China Telecom on in-app billing. With the earlier partnership with China Mobile reached early this year, Fortumo believes they are the first and only mobile payments service that provides such a service to all the three Chinese telecos.
The company is also working with Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE to start powering in-app payments on ZTE Android smartphones from the third quarter of this year.
It must be helpful for international developers who have difficulty accepting Android in-app payments from China, as 1) only a small number of Chinese own credit cards, 2) Chinese users download Android apps from a handful of third-party stores or platforms operated by local Internet companies, other than Google Play or Android Market, and 3) Google Wallet isn’t accessible in China.
Carrier billing, Fortumo estimates, can account for up to 75% of all revenues generated from Android apps in China. In 2G – 2.5 G era, Chinese users had to pay for mobile games and services through carrier billing. I don’t know whether carrier billing as a percentage can be so big in Android app market as more and more Android apps here have introduced third-party mobile payment solutions such as the Alipay plugin. Alipay has the majority of market share in online payments in China.
Also, the total revenues generated from Android platform in China are believed not big. As most Android apps Chinese users consume are for free and developers, from Internet giants to individual developers, are still figuring how to monetize Android apps. Mobile games are believed to be the first revenue source for China’s mobile Internet in general, but haven’t seen big money.
In addition to carrier billing, Fortumo plans to provide its customers with Android app distribution in most leading Chinese channels, including app stores operated by the three telcos, 360 Appstore, 91, Wandoujia, Baidu, etc.
It also wants to help Chinese developers to monetize their games or services in the international markets. CocoaChina/Chukong, Gamewave and Boyaa, have been on board.
Founded in 2007, Fortumo has payment connectivity to over 300 mobile operators in more than 70 countries. Having offices in Estonia and San Francisco, U.S., it recently set up an office in Beijing.