Boku is getting out of the identity business only a few short years after adding identity verification to its portfolio. The payments specialist first started offering identity verification services in 2019, using technology obtained in its acquisition of Danal.
However, the company has now decided to double down on its primary payments business, and sold off its Boku Identity business to Twilio in January to devote its full attention to the payment space. The move will allow Boku to capitalize on lucrative opportunities that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On that front, Boku has released a new Mobile First payments network (stylized as M1ST) that standardizes the mobile payments process in a way that allows people to use mobile wallets like Apple Pay and WeChat Pay through a single consolidated platform. Boku is trying to increase the support for mobile payments more generally, with an easy-to-use API that allows retailers to accept digital wallet transactions. The broader goal is to allow people to pay for online services with their mobile number, without ever needing to enter a credit card.
Boku’s service connects an online back account to a phone number to facilitate that process. The company noted that COVID-19 forced more people to do business online, which has in turn created more interest in mobile payment options. About 2.8 billion people were using mobile wallets as of 2021, and Boku believes that that number will grow to 4.8 billion in 2025, with uptake expected to be particularly high in the Southeast Asian market. As it stands, Boku’s year-over-year revenues were already up 22 percent (to $69 million) in its 2021 report.
Twilio, meanwhile, is expanding its portfolio with a phone verification service that cross-references mobile data with mobile operator records to make sure that customers are using their own devices. Boku previously delivered the service for a trio of French telecoms, and indicated the identity division was one of the fastest-growing segments of its business. Twilio has also integrated LumenVox’s voice recognition tech into its cloud communications platform.