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Zwinky, Aeria Games tap Zong for mobile payments

IAC/Mindspark’s Zwinky, an online avatar site that integrates with social networks, and online game publisher Aeria Games have tapped Zong to enable mobile payments.

Zwinky is currently advertised on social networking sites such as MySpace, along with television shows and networks that target young audiences. IAC Search and Media’s Mindspark has integrated the Zong+ platform to let Zwinky users pay for virtual currency using their handsets.

“We believe in giving our Zwinky members an enhanced in-world experience by converging ease with convenience,” said Christopher McManus, director of business development at Mindspark, an IAC company, New York.

“Zong offers a seamless way to purchase our virtual currency, ZBucks, with a mobile payment platform that not only provides incredible reach but is also focused on efficiency and usability,” he said.

Zwinkies are customizable social avatars that are part of the MyWeb Searchbar on computers running Windows.

A user creates a non-animated cardboard cutout-like character—a Zwinky—to represent himself or herself in any networking site or blog that supports Zwinkies. When users change the appearance of their Zwinkies, all sites that the avatar is currently displayed will update accordingly.

Zong is a mobile payments platform used by online gaming and social networking Web sites. Zong+, launched at the end of last year, combines carrier billing with the low-cost processing of credit, debit and prepaid cards.

Aeria enables mobile payments
Japan-based Aeria Games & Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Aeria Inc. has developed an Internet gaming portal for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) in the U.S.

The company’s games are ostensibly “free to play” but use a micropayments system to generate revenue from in-game item malls and advertising.

Zong claims that only six weeks after integrating to Zong+, Aeria Games reported that more than 32 percent of Aeria’s mobile payments revenue from Zong came from Zong+ users.

Zong+ transactions generated an average payout that is 12 times higher than traditional mobile payments, due to a combination of higher payout rates and flexible price points. 

Aeria reported a 67 percent drop in transaction costs with Zong+ over traditional mobile payments and a 48 percent increase in repeat payments—Zong+ users completed an average of 4.3 transactions per month, while regular users completed an average of 2.7 transactions.

In addition, Aeria achieved 100 percent incremental revenue and reported no cannibalization of existing card or carrier-based payment volumes.

Mobile payments on the rise
Additionally, since the beginning of 2010, Zong has grown by more than 20 major publishers, including Playdom, Slide, Kongregate and TrialPay.

Through its wide merchant distribution, Zong’s reach has surpassed more than 500 million online users, while its carrier distribution just reached 1.5 billion mobile subscribers.

Also, in the last six weeks, Zong has not only expanded its merchant distribution, but also its country and carrier coverage by adding New Zealand, Argentina and Venezuela, with Brazil, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia to follow shortly. 

“The challenge most companies face is transaction completion, as consumers don’t want to spend unnecessary minutes filling out forms and fields,” said David Marcus, founder/CEO of Zong, Palo Alto, CA.

“Zong allows businesses to offer a more flexible and frictionless payment process that is proven to generate transaction completion and increase repeat payments,” he said.