Friday, December 18, 2009

mPayy Launches Free Android Mobile Pay App

mPayy has announced the availability of its mobile payments application in the Android marketplace for all phones that run the Android operating system. mPayy says it "enables free person-to-person payments between members, and low cost merchant processing through its new Android application." There are no costs for opening an mPayy account or making payments. Personal account-holders can receive free mobile payments while small business account-holders pay merchant processing fees.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NOKIA Needs to Do This Too
UK-based Little World Gifts is developing a range of virtual goods available for gifting to others. The virtual goods are all 3D and allow the recipients to interact with them. The iPhone app is being released this month (ready for Xmas) and will also have Facebook integration, tapping into the $40m virtual gifting revenue stream.

Private Label Credit Cards?

... AVOID!

Xoom Expands 18 Euro Countries

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ --, the fastest growing online money transfer company, announced today the launch of money transfer service to Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. Consumers can now wire money to any bank in Denmark, Norway or Switzerland. The money is deposited directly into the receiver's account, making it convenient for the receiver to get the money. " provides customers with a faster and more convenient way to wire money to Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. With, consumers can now wire money to any bank account in these countries without the hassle of waiting in line at the bank," said Iain Allison, vice president of European business development for With the current market bank-to-bank wire transfer fees ranging from $25 to $45, offers a significantly lower fee of $4.99 to transfer any amount, up to $2,999, to Europe. Receiving banks do not charge a fee when money is sent using

Wiring money with to any bank account in Denmark, Norway or Switzerland is simple. Consumers can visit the secure website at, enter sender information, recipient information including bank account details, and the amount to wire. To fund the transaction, consumers can use a bank account, credit/debit card or PayPal. offers money transfer services to other European countries including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

About allows individuals to wire money from any Internet-enabled computer to family, friends and businesses worldwide. Xoom Corporation was founded in 2001 in San Francisco and is backed by leading venture firms Sequoia Capital, New Enterprise Associates, and Fidelity Ventures. For more information about the money transfer service to Denmark, Norway or Switzerland, visit

EBillMe is a Good Alternative to Paypal

Check em out ...

Finally! A Twitter Payment App ... Twitpay is a start-up that aims to allow people to send small payments through Twitter. To do this they include the recipients’ username in their message. For example, posting the update “@johnsmith twitpay $10 for lunch” would deliver the cash to that Twitterer’s Twitpay account. The company monitors the public stream of messages for the keyword “twitpay” and facilitates the exchange. You replenish your Twitpay account using a site like PayPal. Once recipients have accumulated more than $10 in their accounts, the balance can be cashed out in the form of an Amazon gift card. For all transfers exceeding $1, Twitpay will take a flat cut of 5 cents.

In its simplest form, the service is a quick way to settle a lunch tab or pick up a round of drinks on a friend’s birthday. But Michael D. Ivey, its chief executive and co-founder, says it could also make it easier to donate money during a disaster like Hurricane Katrina or an earthquake. “Ideally we want to enable social giving on Twitter,” he said. “But beyond that, we could enable charitable giving, such as to the Red Cross. We’re very excited to be able to help people do good over Twitter.”

Along with many of the third-party applications that make use of Twitter’s platform, Twitpay has no official ties to Twitter, which allows people to post messages up to 140 characters in length. But along with the Shorty Awards, Mr. Tweet and the multitude of other sites and third-party applications springing up around the platform, Twitpay is another example of the way Twitter is forming an ecosystem of its own. The service is still in a trial phase, but Mr. Ivey said the company was actively working to obtain financing and is in discussions with several groups.

eCommerce is 10 Years Old Says EBay CEO

"E-commerce is 10 years old, but it is still in its infancy," eBay CEO John Donahoe said in a wide-ranging, hour-long interview last week. The four-year eBay veteran, who was named to succeed Meg Whitman as CEO in January 2008, has been on a 20-month mission to turn around the Silicon Valley icon, which popularized online auctions for millions of people worldwide. His efforts recently resulted in the first quarterly revenue increase at eBay in a year. E-commerce accounts for only 5% of all retail sales but will soar to 15% to 20% in five years, as more consumers conduct transactions via mobile phones and the Internet, Donahoe says. EBay anticipates more than $500 million in mobile-based application revenue this year, mostly through the iPhone. The eBay app has been downloaded more than 5 million times.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Currency Connect Launches

Two successful online sites are getting together to encourage their users to adopt the other’s services. IMVU and myYearbook are setting up a virtual currency exchange so that users from either service can exchange currency between the sites. The deal is significant because it is a step toward a universal virtual currency, which could have profound implications for the economies of games and virtual worlds, creating the ability for fluid movement between different sites. IMVU runs a site where teens and young adults make 3-D avatars and chat with each other in their own customized rooms. myYearbook runs a social network for young people. Both have millions of users who are spending money for virtual items. Under the deal, users can exchange 200 myYearbook “lunch money” coins for one IMVU credit. Created by myYearbook, the system is called CurrencyConnect and it will be launched in the first quarter of next year. myYearbook is currently recruiting other partners to participate in the exchange program.

Cary Rosenzweig, chief executive of Palo Alto, Calif.-based IMVU, said in an interview that the exchange will be good for both companies in marketing to new users. Neither company is worried about losing its users to the other site, since it’s common for users to join multiple sites, Rosenzweig said. Geoff Cook, chief executive of myYearbook, said his company is open to recruiting numerous sites. But both noted they have to be careful about who they invite to join. If they invited a site with gambling games, for instance, they would have to be careful about scrutiny of anti-gambling regulators. It’s OK to have poker games, for instance, if there is no way for the players to cash out their chips. But if the players can convert their coins into a virtual currency that can be converted into cash, then the regulators would cry foul. Accordingly, the Lunch Money from myYearbook can only be converted into promotional IMVU credits, which cannot be cashed out. “Part of the secret sauce is to limit the potential for abuse,” Cook said. Some of the safeguards include limiting how much currency someone can convert in a given day. At the moment, the currency exchange rate is fixed between the two sites. But it’s possible the rate could float and the companies will study the results of the ongoing currency exchanges. The benefits are a lot like using tokens in mall arcades. When users had tokens to spend, they were far more likely to try out new games they hadn’t considered before. “You can unlock silos of currency and encourage experimenting,” Rosenzweig said. There are potential competitors. PlaySpan, for instance, provides a virtual goods platform for game companies and others to adopt. It has its own currency that can be used across games. But with the Currency Connect deal, sites can cut out such middlemen.

AOL Dumping Bebo, ICQ

AOL, which recently went through a major realignment as well as UI has reportedly put two notable AOL brands, instant messaging service ICQ and social network Bebo, on the selling block. The Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the matter" is reporting that Facebook investor DST is negotiating for ICQ, while Bebo, a recent AOL acquisition and one which recently built out its game offerings through a Social Games Experience section, has unnamed suitors.

The Russians Are Coming!

SAN FRANCISCO — The Russian firm that invested more than $200 million in Facebook this year is making another bet on the United States Internet industry. Digital Sky Technologies, or D.S.T., an investment firm with offices in Moscow and London, is leading a group that is buying a $180 million stake in Zynga, a fast-growing San Francisco company whose online games, like FarmVille, CafĂ© World and Mafia Wars, are extremely popular on Facebook.

AMEX Zync Card

Blippy Opens Up Credit Card Transactions

As the Internet matures, slowly but surely everything we do in the real world is going social. But there’s a limit to how much information we can explicitly share on all the various services. A new service, Blippy, launching today in private beta, has an interesting way to take something you do everyday, buy things with your credit card, and automatically push those transactions online for others to see and interact with.
"“The big question that Blippy answers is ‘What are your friends buying?‘,” co-founder Philip Kaplan (also known in the tech circle as “Pud”) explains. That is of course a take off of Twitter’s question “What are you doing?” — which was recently replaced by “What’s happening?” The key to all of those questions is simplicity. And despite being a concept that you have to think about the ramifications of, Blippy is perhaps even more simple because it employs what Kaplan dubs “passive sharing.” Again, you aren’t explicitly sharing anything via something like a message, your actions (buying things with your credit card) are being automatically pushed to the web. “Blippy provides transparency into normal everyday things,” Kaplan continues. This actually fits in perfectly with something Twitter CEO Evan Williams recently tweeted: “Many of the great businesses of the next decade will be about making information about our behaviors more visible.”

Obopay Launches iPhone App

Obopay has announced that its Obopay mobile payments application is now LIVE on the Apple App Store and available for free download. "By delivering a rich, user friendly experience, Obopay’s iPhone mobile payment application is unparalleled in the market today. Advanced features include push notifications and family-centric money management tools that enable parents to monitor children’s spending and make real-time transfers to/from family accounts. Children can send requests for emergency money to their parents and receive it in seconds. In addition, it is ideal for small merchants who will benefit from the push requests, advanced history display and tracking capabilities."

Navigation Capital Partners Acquires Prepaid Solutions USA

Navigation Capital Partners, an Atlanta-based middle market private equity firm, has announced that it has acquired the assets and associated liabilities of Prepaid Solutions USA via newly-formed entity Prepaid Solutions, Inc. (PPS). Prepaid Solutions USA was a division of West Suburban Bank (WSB), a Chicago area-based community bank and wholly-owned subsidiary of West Suburban Bancorp, Inc. WSB's Prepaid Solutions USA division was founded in 2001.

PPS is a payments company offering comprehensive prepaid/debit solutions for corporate America, self-banked and under-banked consumers. Solutions include payroll, general-purpose reloadable, performance, incentive, reward and gift. NCP has appointed Ken Goins and Eric Ohlhausen as the new CEO and CFO of PPS, respectively. Dan Grotto, the head of WSB's Prepaid Solutions USA division prior to the transaction, will serve as president of PPS. NCP partnered with Goins and Ohlhausen through the firm's Executive-in-Residence program to source the opportunity. NCP's Executive-in-Residence program is the firm's approach of identifying experienced leadership within an industry attractive for investment, and then searching for the right company to acquire as a team. The transaction also leverages NCP Operating Partner O.G. Greene's more than 20 years of payments industry experience including Skylight Financial, Inc., National Data Corporation and First Financial Management.

MOL Buys Friendster to Create Huge eCommerce Network

This is interesting; Malaysian-based payment on line company MOL Global's purchase of social networking site Friendster has won praises from industry observers Media, the marketing and communications newspaper for Asia Pacific, in its on-line report today, quoted the observers as saying that it is a company like MOL, and not another social network, that will advance Friendster's status in the future. Yesterday, MOL Global confirmed it was buying 100% of Friendster and that the deal would be finalised by year end.

In a statement, Friendster said this would effectively create "Asia’s largest end-to-end content, distribution and commerce network, pairing MOL’s off-line retail channel partners and payment platform with Friendster’s large online footprint, social network and user community in Asia". Friendster’s head of Asia Ian Stewart told Media that, because the website is looking to differentiate itself through its digital payment service, the merger makes sense because MOL is the company that is best able to improve this side of its business and has the clearest reach to Friendster’s cache of Southeast Asian users. "This deal consolidates the business direction of the company. We believe that having a strong virtual-currency offering will better connect users to the Facebook virtual store, and then into our gaming aspects and music. Through payment mechanisms, Friendster can become a social-shopping platform, kind of like eBay but on a social network," he said.

The report said Friendster and MOL first began working together in October, when MOL was enlisted to develop an integrated payments platform that would lay the foundation for the Friendster Wallet and the Friendster Gift Shop. Stewart said this partnership demonstrated MOL’s dominant positioning in Southeast Asia, "and in the last two months of the acquisition process, MOL joined the conversation." "We were gravitating to the virtual payment possibilities, and with geographic reach and users’ attraction. MOL was obviously going toward that expansion, and when we were going through the acquisition process, we were looking for a partner who would fit these criteria as much as possible," he explained. From July, when Friendster first announced its intentions to be acquired, the company has been vocal about wanting to find an Asian-based suitor. Friendster has made strides in centralising its operations in the region to accommodate its strong user base here: Asia makes up more than 90% of Friendster’s audience, and it claims a leading position in Southeast Asia. Friendster is still the number one social networking site in the Philippines.

The Media report said rumours recently circulated of Tencent’s interest in the site, as reports noted that the Chinese online giant was on Friendster’s acquistision shortlist. Reports additionally cited Facebook as a potential early contender for the company, though hurdles related to competition and intellectual property rights prohibited further negotiations. But according to regional analysts, Friendster did well to partner with a firm that would most adequately advance its operations and allow it to advance its brand. "I think it was a brilliant idea – combining a platform that has immense social reach with a group of very influential connectors, and then making it easy for audiences to engage via e-commerce," said vice-president of business development for Adify, Andrew Tu. "I think it’s a marriage made in heaven because, when you look at an acquisition, you need to look at the synergistic components that can help you grow, more than just expanding your reach." Jeremy Woolf, managing consultant of Text 100, also said Friendster’s move was a smart one because it enables the site to connect more effectively with local audiences, which will be key to its long-term success. "This is Friendster fishing where the fish are – it is centralising the company where it has the greatest population of users and will work with a company that will preserve the brand," he said. "It will solidify Friendster's future as a niche, hyper-local social network." Stewart noted that Friendster’s focus on micropayments would give it an operating model that is more parallel to those of Japan's Mixi, Korea's Cyworld and Tencent's QQ rather than globally focused social networking sites like Facebook. "Looking to micropayments and focusing on localised research and development makes a lot of sense," said Mindshare’s regional business director Brian Stoller. "Look at QQ’s success – QQ makes its money through micropayments and financial transactions, and its earnings aren’t based on advertising. Focusing on this and working with a Malaysian company that specialises in it is very good on its behalf."

PlaySpan Virtual Goods Study

The survey collected data on the virtual goods buying habits of 2,425 randomly selected users of PlaySpan's product line (the PlaySpan marketplace, Spare Change, and the Ultimate Game Card).

New data revealed in the report includes the finding that 80% of users who make a virtual goods purchase do so in order to use the item in their game themselves. Only 20% of virtual goods buyers will purchase items with intent to give them to another player as a gift. Two-thirds of buyers purchase virtual goods about once per month, with one-quarter purchasing as often as once per week. Only 7% of those responded purchased every day. Likewise, only 12% stated they purchase virtual goods only once per year.

Users who avoid purchasing virtual goods sold by other players or by third-party sites do so out of fear. 42% of respondents said they would not purchase from third-party sites because it would be a TOS violation that could close their account, while another 42% said they wouldn't make such purchases due to fear of being scammed. Only 9% of respondents indicated that they simply didn't know how or where to make virtual goods purchases from third-party sites. PlaySpan interprets these results as a concrete demand among players for safe, sanctioned secondary marketplaces like its own. The complete version may be downloaded from PlaySpan