February 9, 2011, 2:45 PM

Visa buys digital payments specialist PlaySpan for $190 million

PlaySpan enables payments for virtual digital goods such as game credits.

Allison Enright

Editor

Lead Photo

Visa Inc. today announced that it will buy PlaySpan Inc, a digital goods payment platform, for approximately $190 million in cash.

PlaySpan owns UltimatePay, an app developers employ to create currencies that consumers can use to buy virtual goods such as online game credits and in-game goods that can include everything from weapons to digital athletes. PlaySpan’s technology also can be used to create payment applications in mobile apps designed for the Google-backed Android operating system.

PlaySpan also markets a prepaid online game card to consumers, called the Ultimate Game Card, that enables consumers to use PlaySpan’s UPoints currency to play games or buy virtual goods in more than 1,000 online games. In December, the company said it had more than 28 million customers worldwide.

Visa says the acquisition will help it extend its capabilities in digital and mobile commerce. The acquisition follows  the payment card network’s April 2010 purchase of CyberSource, a payment processor and fraud prevention firm. After that purchase, Visa introduced free tools that it said made it easier for developers to create payment applications for e-commerce and mobile devices.  

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report estimates global consumer spending on digital goods at $25 billion in 2010. It projects such spending to reach $280 billion by 2014. Visa expects to close the deal by the end of March.

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