The Western Union Company global payment services will launch “WU Pay” electronic payments platform to improve the customer experience and safety for millions of people seeking to make online payments or transfer money. The WU Pay platform allows online shoppers in the U.S. to pay for online purchases from their existing bank accounts or in cash at Western Union Agent locations. WU Pay is based on the eBillme platform, which Western Union acquired in October 2011. Shoppers choose the option at checkout page, and the order is confirmed with a bill sent to their e-mail address and pay the bill the same way they pay utilities, loans, insurance, and other bills through their online bank account or at one of over 44,000 Western Union® Agent locations.
Citi “ThankYou Rewards” loyalty programs has introduced several features for its “ThankYou Points” rewards members, in direct response to consumer research. The new offering includes a “Travel Center,” an expanded “Bonus Center” and a “Points Transfer” program that enables members to give their points to other members. The “Travel Center” allows members to use their Citi credit card in combination with “ThankYou Points” to get travel rewards. If a member doesn’t have enough points for a flight, hotel reservation or vacation package, a Citi credit card can be used to pay the difference, for which there are no blackout dates on flights, hotels, cars and vacation packages. Moreover, the “Citi ThankYou Bonus Center” gives members an average of four extra “ThankYou Points” per dollar spent while “ThankYou Points Transfer” gives users the ability for members to transfer their “ThankYou Points” to other members.
Buy.com has expanded its online payments options with the addition of the “Checkout by Amazon” and “Amazon PayPhrase” services offered by Amazon Payments, Inc. To check out at Buy.com using Amazon Payments, customers simply click on the “Checkout with Amazon” button that currently appears on each of Buy.com’s millions of product pages as well as in the shopping cart. To use Amazon PayPhrase, Buy.com customers type their designated phrase and click to instantly preview the total order cost with shipping and tax. No extra steps are needed to “add to cart” or “proceed to checkout,” and customers do not have to sign in or re-enter credit card information to complete transactions. Checkout by Amazon also works smoothly with any order placed with Buy.com’s thousands of brand-name Marketplace Sellers. Existing account
information is used to complete transactions, saving shoppers valuable
time by not having to re-enter shipping addresses and payment information.
Visa has renewed its sponsorship with the NFL for another five seasons. Under terms of the new deal Visa will get a top-tier sponsorship of the “NFL Draft” and “NFL Kickoff,” exclusive experiences for Visa clients to utilize in their Visa card marketing programs, a Visa and NFL co-branded online portal on NFL.com for “Visa Signature” cardholders to obtain access to one-of-a-kind NFL experiences and expanded presence and preference for NFL-related transactions through various sales channels. Visa will unveil an NFL-themed national television advertising campaign with extensions across multiple environments. Throughout the season, print advertisements will also appear in in-stadium game day team programs of Visa-sponsored teams as well as in “Pro Bowl” and “Super Bowl” programs. For the fifth consecutive season, Visa also presents the “Visa Halftime Report” on FOX NFL broadcasts. In the current financial year, 600 financial institutions and merchants utilized Visaâs sponsorship of the NFL and generated 32 million pieces of communication for their customers.
eBillme has introduced “eBillme Walk-In,” a new way for consumers to shop online and pay with cash, without having a credit card or even a bank account. The company has partnered with providers including MoneyGram to assemble the largest network of U.S. based walk-in locations with the lowest transaction fee. Upon selecting “eBillme Walk-In,” online shoppers will be sent an eBill which can now be paid using online banking or by presenting the eBill to a participating location. A locator is available to show consumers the nearest walk-in location based on their address. Consumers can simply take their printed eBill to one of the over 75,000 walk-in locations across the U.S., including MoneyGramâs nearly 40,000 agent locations.
Alternative payment provider Revolution Money has received $42 million
in “Series C” funding. The investors include a Goldman Sachs affiliate
AOL co-founder Steve Case, Revolution Money Chairman Ted Leonsis, former
Charles Schwab CEO David Pottruck, former JP Morgan Vice Chairman David
Golden, Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley. Revolution Money will use
this funding to continue developing the core technology behind its
popular and innovative products that include “RevolutionCard”, a
general-use credit card and “Revolution MoneyExchange”, a free online
P2P payments service. This funding follows a “Series B” investment
round of $50 million led by Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley and Deutsche
Bank in September 2007.
WA-based mPoria mobile commerce has launched its “GoLo” mobile shopping service to provide consumers with discounts on hard-to-find merchandise with the application of a unique method. The “GoLo” method offers consumers merchandise at a price that drops every few seconds until it either sells out or the price reaches $0. The new service serves as a portal for over 100 merchants and provides consumers with free registration from their mobile phone browser. Upon registration, consumers can monitor current featured items, a schedule of upcoming products and are allowed to make purchases using credit card, debit card or PayPal.
A Web traffic service has found that Cabelas, a sporting goods retailer, Barnes and Noble and Best Buy had the retail industry’s best reliability over the holiday season, an indication their sites were highly available and experienced little or no downtime over the 30 day study period. According to Keynote, Victoria’s Secret, Circuit City and Cabelas had the industry’s best site responsiveness over the holiday season, an indication of how fast those sites were in downloading pages and completing transactions for consumers. Cabelas and Best Buy had the industry’s best overall service levels over the holiday season, ranking highly in terms of both site reliability and site responsiveness. Keynote also found that some of the leading retail sites showed up to 400% slow-downs during peak shopping days, a rate at which Keynote experts caution leads to consumer abandonment of a product search or check-out. On average, retailers experienced 5% to 10% slow-downs during peak holiday shopping periods, which would not significantly impact the consumer’s online experience or impede check-out.
Nearly one-third of thirty major retail sites experienced significant slow-downs on Friday that impacted the product search and check-out processes that will likely affect online sales. Also, popular items such as the “Nintendo Wii” and “Zune” mp3 players sold out quickly on “Black Friday.” Keynote reports that its monitoring of retail site performance showed a definite slow-down in site performance over the course of “Black Friday.” The worst performing sites on “Black Friday” were showing up to a 400% slow down and well-known brands such as Buy.com and Lowes experienced significant slow downs. However, Keynote noted that none of the leading sites it monitors appeared to go completely dark on Friday, whereas several leading sites experienced periods with complete outages last holiday season. Meanwhile, eBay companies, including Shopping.com and PayPal, reported that Shopping.com traffic to merchants in the “Gifts/Flowers” and “Clothing/Accessories” categories throughout the “Thanksgiving” holiday grew by 57% and 52% respectively year-over-year. Overall, Shopping.com’s traffic to merchants increased 61% over last year’s “Black Friday,” November 24, 2006. eBay noted that, based on the previous five years of PayPal’s online shopping research, data show that Mondays are the busiest day of the week for online shopping and the second Monday in December is solidifying its place as the actual busiest online shopping day of the season. In 2006, online shopping activity on PayPal was 96% higher on the second Monday in December than on “Thanksgiving Day.”
WY-based ThinkTank Holdings says it will introduce a high-end credit card utilizing a patent pending credit card concept that includes carbon and/or carbon based material. The code name for the company is “Next Card.” The actual name of the company will not be announced until its release date. The new card will be available to individuals and corporations for an estimated annual fee of $495. It is expected to come with a 24-hour concierge service, a points and rewards incentive package as well as many other benefits.
A new research report reveals that Amazon.com and Best Buy both were ranked as the #1 sites with the best overall e-tailer ranking across 250+ customer experience metrics. Keynote Systems says Amazon.com was the top ranked site in terms of search satisfaction, and one of the top ranked sites in six of nine key categories including price satisfaction, product research and overall site navigation and organization. Best Buy showed the most significant gains in online customer experience over the past year and was the number one ranked site in terms of pure customer satisfaction. Best Buy also ranked in the top echelon in seven of the nine key categories contributing to a quality online customer experience, including the ease of the purchasing process and customer support. The site’s most significant gains came in search satisfaction. The study provides an in-depth examination of the online customer experience and service levels (site responsiveness and reliability) of a dozen leading electronics retailer Web sites, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Circuit City, Dell, Target and Wal-Mart.
Seattle-based mPoria has integrated PayPal’s automated mobile payment service into mPoria’s GoMobile! m-commerce platform. PayPal will be the third-party provider and mobile commerce payment mechanism within GoMobile!, acting as a mobile web wallet that enables consumers to pay for merchandise purchased over their mobile phone using a credit card, banking account or stored balance on their PayPal account. PayPal’s mobile payment technology will be integrated within the mPoria GoMobile! platform and receive prominent positioning when users purchase retail goods from merchants with mobile shopping sites powered by mPoria. mPoria is a provider of mobile commerce solutions.