Pakistan’s third largest mobile operator Zong is partnering with mobile payment firm Fortumo to allow its customers to charge online purchases to their phone bills.
The deal allows online merchants and app stores to use Fortumo’s carrier billing platform to bill Zong’s customers directly, so they don’t need to use a credit or debit card.
An estimated 56 million Pakistanis have smartphones, but Pakistan has a credit card penetration of less than 1 per cent, according to the World Bank.
Fortumo said in a statement: “Millions of people in emerging markets are accessing the internet only from their phones… but cannot access paid content as a majority of them do not own credit cards. We are looking forward to enabling our merchants access to this growing audience through carrier billing.”
Zong, a subsidiary of China Mobile, has about 25 million mobile connections and a 19 per cent market share. It is the only operator in the top four to offer 4G services and had nearly 400,000 4G connections in Q1, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Fortumo has been working with Telenor Pakistan, the country’s second largest operator, since July 2014.
Vietnam’s largest operator, Viettel, announced in March it was partnering with Fortumo to allow subscribers to shop on Google Play and charge purchases to their phone bill.
Fortumo said its direct carrier billing platform is available to more than 1.3 billion people in 16 Asian countries.