eBay to Boost PayPal with Acquisition of Mobile Payments Firm Zong

On Thursday, the folks at eBay – the world’s largest online marketplace – announced it’s intention to acquire Zong, a provider of payments through mobile carrier billing.

Not a small purchase by any stretch of the imagination, eBay will fork over approximately $240 million in cash for Zong, which by eBay’s admission, leverages connections with more than 250 mobile network operators around the world.

Zong has become widely recognized in the burgeoning mobile payments industry for offering “localized, secure and easy-to-use” payments capabilities for digital goods and services in 21 languages and 45 countries. Zong makes it possible for consumers to enter their mobile phone numbers at the time of purchase and then, in a matter of seconds, Zong verifies that number and clears the payment on the customer’s existing wireless service account.

eBay, which owns PayPal, naturally has big plans for Zong.

Combined with PayPal’s leading global payment platform serving 100 million active accounts worldwide, the company expects that Zong will add complementary technology and talent that help strengthen PayPal’s leadership position in mobile payments and digital goods.

“With Zong,” eBay said in a press release Thursday, “PayPal will have greater ability to offer consumers even more choices in how they want to pay – virtually anytime, anywhere.”

“Commerce is changing. With mobile phones, we walk around with a mall in our pockets. PayPal helps to make money work better for customers in this new commerce reality – no matter how they want to pay or what device they’re using,” says Scott Thompson, president of PayPal. “We believe that Zong will strengthen this value by helping us reach the more than 4 billion people who have mobile phones, giving them more choice and security when they pay.”