Boku has been around for several years, but you've probably never heard of them — the company offers systems that enable customers to bill purchases to their wireless accounts, and all that integration occurs before it ever reaches the end user's eyes. That's been changing recently, though, with the announcement that they're now offering special offer integration and mobile apps that can track spending, give realtime alerts on purchases, and configure limits. We had a chance to check out Boku's new system here at Mobile World Congress today along with a demo on video — from credit card swipe all the way through to notification on the linked phone.
We quizzed Boku about its chances against products like Google Wallet, but they're quick to note that they don't compete head-to-head because Wallet requires the use of the phone to pay — Boku uses a traditional MasterCard, and it can be optionally linked to an NFC sticker that affixes to the back of any phone (or any object, really). The concept is slick and well-executed with apps for Android and iOS, but Boku's facing two fairly big hurdles: one, it's unclear whether customers are ready and willing to turn their mobile phones into prepaid bank cards, and two, they've yet to announce any carrier partners for the new system — we pressed on the issue of North American partners, but the official word so far is "no comment."