Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rules are made to be broken

I was having coffee this morning with a wonderful person who works at Visa who I worked with on a project when I was at CyberSource. We were talking about some of the "funny" ( you have to be a payment geek ) things about the payment biz. It always made me chuckle when I ate at a Chinese restaurant that was just down the hill from Visa's offices in San Mateo, where a lot of Visa people ate, and they had a sign like the one in this post about the minimum purchase when paying with a card. Of course, Visa's rules clearly state that merchants are not allowed to have a minimum. I doubt if anyone ever called the merchant on it. Over the years as I have conversed with industry outsiders they viewed these rules as absolutes. I would refer to this story to set them straight.

Monday, May 26, 2008


This evening I was shopping for a new technology cordless phone (DECT 6.0) and came across a sweet deal at When I went to check out, they were offering eBillme as a payment alternative. Since it is mandatory that I try every new payment method, I gave it a shot. I was pretty impressed. For those of you not familiar, this is a Push payment. You shop, choose eBillme, then are given instructions to log in to your bank's bill payment site and set eBillme up as a payee and make a payment. That part was easy since eBillme was pre-registered within Wells Fargo's bill pay service. All I had to do was cut and paste the Account number I was assigned, fill in the amount and I was done. Within the next 2 days or so, eBillme will get paid by Wells and then I imagine it is another 1-2 days and the merchant will get paid. I am guessing, the fee is less than credit card and it is a guaranteed payment. In theory, I believe there could still be fraud if someone takes over your online banking account, but the consumer would be protected by RegE. Welcome any feedback!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Games + Mobile Forum @ LA Games Conference

I just returned from yet another conference covering the area of casual gaming, MMOGs and Social Networks. This was a much smaller conference than the ION conference from last week. On a scale of 1:10, it gets about a 6.5. It was mediocre on content but surprisingly the quality of the speakers and attendees was relatively high. One of the key debates in this realm is where the revenue is going to come from. Is it advertising or subscriptions or micro-transactions or some combination. Unlike the session I did at ION, there wasn't a session to educate this audience about the nuances of payment which they could definately benefit from. One of the sponsors of the conference was PaymentOne which offers landline billing and has signed some name recognizable game companies. My personal opinion is that mobile billing will be far more successful. Landline billing has been around for a long time but with landlines diminishing, the user experience being very time consumming and inconvenient (ie; you have to be home), you can't be on VOIP and the lack of being able to tie a transaction much more positively to a particular user, I not only do not see it being viable but in fact gives the notion of billing to a phone bill a bad name. I welcome any debate or questoins on these topics. p.s. The food was 10x better at the ION conference!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mobile Forum of Telecom Council

On Friday, I attended a meeting of this organization. It was very well attended, oversubscribed actually, by members of the mobile carrier industry, bunch of VCs, mobile phone manufacturers, emerging mobile payment players, etc... Most of the talk was about Person<>Person (domestic and cross border) transfers and NFC (oops, I mean RFID, oops, I mean Contactless). Presentations were made by Visa, Obopay, SK Telecom, Firethorn, and Vivotech. The presentations were very good, lite on the sales pitches. The 800 lb gorilla in the room is on the on-going debate over the business model between the FIs and the Mobile Carriers. Of course, it you like seeing big fat gorillas dance, this would have been a great oppty since no one wanted to take on the issue directly. Lucky for us here at Danal, our BilltoMobile service is not a victim of this debate. If anyone would like any more specific info on the event, feel free to place a comment. Unfortunately as a pre-revenue start-up, we cannot afford to pay $4k to join the Telecom Council so we won't be getting copies of the PPTs. We could only afford the $100 ticket price.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Where do we go from here...?

I am going to start communicating this blog url out to folks. Rather than me simply blurting out my opinions on the many diverse topics of interest in the payment world, I just want to open it up and have people start "talking" and we will see where it goes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

1st Note

This should be interesting!