Vodafone invest in micropayments service

The payments landscape is changing daily and now it seems that the networks are getting into it, as Vodafone piles $18m into micropayments business PlaySpan.

PlaySpan has announced that it has raised $18 million from Vodafone and SoftBank for its virtual goods and micropayment platform.

The company plans to use the money from Vodaphone Ventures and SoftBank Bodhi Fund to expand its products, sales and marketing on a global basis, said Karl Mehta, chief executive of PlaySpan in Santa Clara, Calif, in an interview for Reuters.

“There’s a lot of growth in our business in both domestic and international markets,” Mehta said. “We believe that micro-transactions have traction in games and will spread to other kinds of applications such as video.”

Last month, PlaySpan introduced a way to pay for videos through micro-transactions. The $19m funding is PlaySpan’s third round, bringing its total raised to $42 million. Existing investors Menlo Ventures, Novel TMT Ventures, STIC and other undisclosed investors also participated. Mehta says that the round was oversubscribed and that the amount of the funding rose as more investors wanted to get into the deal. More than 1,000 online game companies, social networks, and online video publishers are using PlaySpan’s various services for making money from virtual goods.

PlaySpan has several different businesses layered on top of each other. It provides game publishers with one-stop service when it comes to introducing their own virtual currency and virtual goods into online games.

PlaySpan provides virtual currency and virtual goods platform, offloading the task of creating this infrastructure from game developers. It also provides the UltimatePay payment system that allows game companies to make money from their virtual goods. And it sells virtual currency Ultimate Game Card gift cards at 48,000 retailers around the world so that users who don’t have credit cards can pay cash for the cards at stores and then enter a code to get virtual currency in a game.