Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Woozworld launches mobile payment-powered virtual goods marketplace

Woozworld Inc., a Web 2.0 virtual world powered by tweens with more than one million user-generated virtual spaces, has partnered with mobile payment platform Zong.

Keeping user experience a priority, Woozworld recognizes its user base’s proclivity to send text messages and expects that integrating Zong’s secure mobile payment platform will be well received by mobile users. Zong’s payment experience is now available for Woozworld users to buy virtual goods by entering in their mobile phone number.

“Our core demographic is tweens ages 8-16, but in our case our sweet spot is 9-14,” said Eric Brassard, CEO of Woozworld, Montreal, Quebec. “The general concept is kids build it, and they’ve created a ton of things such as restaurants, they’ve set up their own businesses and set up wedding chapels where they get married and started reality shows.

“They have their own currency, and we decided to integrate mobile payments before launching a mobile platform of the virtual world,” he said. “This was our first foray into mobile, and we hugely believe in the space, but it wasn’t necessarily appropriate for the tween market until recently.

“Because of the adoption of the iPod touch and the iPhone, it makes sense, and it’s a lot easier for tweens to make payments using their phone—mobile caters to accessibility to payments for that market.”

A recent spin-off from Tribal Nova Inc., Woozworld markets and operates, which lets users create space, run activities and do business.

Zong is the mobile payment provider for Facebook Credits and also works with hundreds of leading destination sites such as Gaia Online, IMVU and Playdom.

Claiming to reach more than two billion mobile users, Zong provides localized payment capabilities in over 30 countries in 16 languages by combining carrier billing and partnerships with payment card networks.

Mobile payments for virtual goods
Zong verifies payment by sending a secure PIN via text message to the user, who enters the number online to confirm and complete the transaction.

Woozworld is currently integrating the value-added service

Zong+, which lets Woozworld link a credit or debit card to their mobile number and charge their micro-transaction to their payment card through the same SMS and PIN process.

Mr. Brassard said that as a globally available payment platform powered by the tween-preferred medium of SMS, Zong was the natural choice for Woozworld.

Woozworld expects the integration of Zong to have a significant impact on the conversion rate of purchases of user-generated virtual goods.

Users can buy virtual clothes, shoes and accessories, furniture, decorations, keys to access special areas, trophies, cars, pools, alien space craft and even magical spells.

“You name it—essentially everything you will find in the real world you will find in Woozworld, and you can buy it,” Mr. Brassard said. “You can also throw special spells on yourself to have special powers when you play with other kids.”

Woozworld launched in December of 2009, with just fifty admin-generated virtual spaces. The world has grown massively and organically in the months since the launch, with users having built up over one million spaces in just six months.

Currently, the average user session is forty-five minutes long, with over seventy percent of daily traffic made up of returning users.

“We’re certain that Woozworld members will find Zong to be a fantastic and seamless payment option that allows for enhanced game play and of course a simple way to purchase virtual goods that express their style,” said Hill Ferguson, vice president of product and marketing at Zong, San Francisco.