Mobile Messaging: Winning Over Payments

Mobile messaging is hot.

One major indicator is the whopping $19 billion Facebook is paying for mobile messaging app WhatsApp.

Another gauge much more under the radar is the transformation of a major mobile carrier payments company into a broader messaging business moving up the mobile commerce stream.

In the middle of last year, two established companies hardly with household names merged to combine mobile messaging with carrier billing.

Payvia, which ran the largest direct carrier mobile platform in the U.S, acquired mobile messaging powerhouse Mogreet, which we wrote about here at the time (Mobile Payments Meet MMS: Payvia Buys Mogreet).

The idea was that the Mogreet MMS activity could be merged into the Payvia connections platform, which already was set up to transact globally,  with carrier agreements and connections in more than 100 countries in place since 2004.

It turns out the mobile payment activity was dwarfed by the mobile messaging action, so the mobile payments part of the company is moving out of the picture with mobile messaging moving front and center, taking over the carrier connections for its messaging.

The company’s new name is Outspoken and James Citron, the founder of Mogreet, is the new president.

Citron said the growth of the messaging market drove the decision. “Ninety percent of our customers have increased their messaging volume with us over the last 12 months,” said Citron. “We sent more than 3 billion messages in 2013, a growth of 70%.”

Unlike peer-to-peer messaging like by WhatsApp, Outspoken sends messages on behalf of thousands of companies including Charlotte Russe, Jack in the Box and Cox Media, though the recipients would never see the Payvia, Mogreet or now Outspoken name, only that of the brand.

The mobile commerce aspect comes into play when a consumer receives a message from a brand, such as a retailer.

For example, a consumer who previously purchased something from a retailer may already have given that retailer their credit card and other information, such as their mailing address.

Outspoken sends that person a coupon via MMS, the message can say something like “to purchase, we can charge your credit card on file and send to your address,” expediting a purchase, according to Citron.  “Messaging breaks through the clutter,” he says.

Consumer may dip in and out of apps, periodically glance at mobile websites and email on their phone and eventually many will likely pay with their phones.

Meanwhile, they continue to open mobile messages.

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