There is a fair amount of processing bounty by telcos -- a small percentage per transaction -- that comes from the payment service to younger customers who don't have credit cards or bank accounts. For each dollar of the mobile billing transaction, 85 cents goes to the merchant, leaving the processor and the carrier to divide up the remaining 15 cents. That compares to the 2% to 5% fee credit cards take or the 30% outfits like Facebook keep in Facebook credits, the virtual currency used in games like FarmVille.
Klebe says the average transaction is between $5 and $15 with a monthly maximum of $25. BilltoMobile's biggest merchant partner is Nexon, an online video game shop.
These mobile payment outfits face a big hurdle, though. Credit cards are by far the currency of choice in non-cash purchases, and if there's any online biller that has already made inroads above others, it's the Internet's favorite go between: PayPal. The Net payment division of eBay offers Apple iPhone applications that allow users to make mobile payments or transfer money by bumping phones together.
Telcos, it seems, will end up fighting for a very small piece of the market.--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.
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