Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ollie Polonen goes APE Shit

PG agrees with Ollie that the main things this new startup has goig is "unlike its current competitors, its technology enables extremely small payments ranging from only few cents to some ten cents by managing to reduce the share of various payment fees substantially." And they have good browser integration for account management. Let's see if APE can turn into an 800 lb gorilla.
Article here and reproduced below.


Finnish APE Payment will open its anticipated web payment service on May 20, just six months later the company was originally established. Everything seems to be on track as the company gets ready to revolutionize the web payment culture – in the beginning in Finnish scale, but hopefully soon enough also internationally.

APE Payment is a micro payment service for consumers enabling small and simple payment transactions in online purchases. The key differentiator of APE Payment is that unlike its current competitors, its technology enables extremely small payments ranging from only few cents to some ten cents by managing to reduce the share of various payment fees substantially. Another factor that makes the service so interesting is its appearance as an e-wallet in the upper-left corner of your browser on those web sites that have enabled the service. The e-wallet icon shows you the balance of account and thus eases the control of your funds whilst browsing.

At first, APE Payment’s service will be taken into use by some of the most influential magazines and newspapers in Finland. The idea is to offer chargeable special content besides the regular free-of-charge web articles for very reasonable price. So what is the upside for the users then? Firstly, the users can now get their hands on top quality content that is only available for paying customers. Another positive influence the service could have is lessened, aggressive (could call it annoying as well) web advertisement that at least some pages obviously have, through better incomes caused by the paid content. Even though, only few magazines have decided to join the first wave, the company is ambitious about its future and the expectations are that many will follow soon. APE Payment currently has several patents pending both in the U.S and in Europe.

Last years there have been lots of great eCommerce and mCommerce companies coming from Finland, but in my opinion they have struggled too much to find their way to be a mainstream solution. However, Finland still ranks 5th among the EU countries for e-commerce industry, so one would naturally assume that sooner or later one of these start-ups would become mainstream. Clearly, the difficulty is to plan a easy enough service so that even not so tech-oriented people can utilize it in their daily routines and on the other hand to reach enough of those consumers that test – and later fall in love with the service.

The men behind APE Payment are serial entrepreneur Marko Parkkinen, who has been getting familiar with eCommerce in his current role as a board member of Fruugo, and Lauri Hulkko, former CEO of Logonet and partner at News to Screen. The company got recently a lot of media coverage among the leading newspapers as Risto Siilasmaa joined the company as a partner. Besides joining the company, Siilasmaa also invested capital to help the company to take off. Siilasmaa will bring the young company important experience from tech giants like F-secure, Nokia, Elisa, Fruugo and an interesting mCommerce company Valimo Wireless, which was recently acquired by Gemalto.

If nothing else, I’m at least expecting to see the company to land a new financing round still this year, because it’s difficult to imagine that the business model would or could grow organically until it reaches nearly all influential Medias at least in the domestic market. In any case, there is no doubt that there wouldn’t be enough web sites of also outside news media that could benefit of utilizing this type of micro payment service. As the company clarifies, there hasn't been a solution with small enough fees yet to make the business attractive for service providers - so maybe APE Payment actually has found a huge market gap. So what remains to be done, is to hope that APE Payment finds enough of open-minded consumers and currently suffering old media houses and services before the service ends up buried like so many predecessors have done before.

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