BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — What if you could swipe your credit card and then — moments later — have the transaction details appear on your phone. Better still, what if all of your payments could be organized in a beautiful app, an app which could actually make managing your money fun. This service now exists for your iPhone, and it’s called Boku.
Boku started out as a way to pay for things with your cellphone. It’s the way kids could buy ringtones and have them charged to the phone bill (probably for their parents to end up paying later). But the boku folks figured that many of us are already quite happy to pay for things with regular credit cards. So they spoke to the card issuers, and get in at the top.
Now, when you pay with your Boku-enabled card (usually issued by a telco right now), it acts like any other Visa or Mastercard, only the data is sent to Boku and then to your iPhone. Thus you can do things like set a maximum weekly budget, and have the phone alert you when you reach, say, 80 percent.
But it gets better. Boku also keeps track of offers, and even loyalty points, and can apply savings automatically. So say you’re signed up for discounts at a store: The app knows when you enter that store, and will let you either redeem loyalty points, or just tell you about offers.
The app is also very slick. Sadly, you can’t just go download it yet. It has to be issued to you by your provider. In the U.S, this probably means that AT&T and Verizon would thrash all the beauty out of it before passing it on to you. But fear not! The folks at Boku have realized that everybody might like this service, and plan to work with banks, too.