March 30, 2009

Rixty Partners With Coinstar To Bring Online Payments To Teens

Today Rixty announced that it would partner with Coinstar in the May rollout of its new youth-oriented payment service intended to help unbanked teens pay for microtransactions more easily online. When Rixty launches, users will be able to feed coins and cash into any Coinstar kiosk and have the money added to an online Rixty account that they can then use to pay for virtual goods and other transactions in any of Rixty's partner platforms, which will include both online games and virtual worlds.

"We want to focus on providing a payment mechanism that lets young users meet their own needs without extra fees, that is also convenient and economical. We feel everything on the marketplace today fails on one of those counts. Credit cards and mobile phones aren't youth-controlled, and prepaid credit cards are very expensive and have a lot of fees for reloading," said Ted Sorom, CEO of Rixty. "Everything in the marketplace today doesn't really meet the spending needs of the youth consumer."

While there is usually a small service fee charged for use of Coinstar kiosks, Rixty users will be able to use Coinstar to add funds to their online accounts without being charged any extra fees. Coinstar estimates that $10.5 billion in loose change is sitting in American households right now, roughly $90 per household. Rixty hopes that, thanks to the Coinstar partnership, the roughly 32 million potential users in the target 13-24 unbanked audience start feeding that $90 per household into Rixty accounts so they can spend it online in games and virtual worlds.

There are about 10,000 Coinstar kiosks nationwide, usually located at local grocery stores, convenience stores, and shopping malls. Users adding change and loose bills to the Coinstar machine can opt to get their "payout" in the form of a Rixty voucher containing a unique PIN number. Users than enter the PIN at their online Rixty account to add the value of the funds they deposited in Coinstar to their online spending account. Rixty also intends to sell prepaid cards at convenience stores, available at initial price points as low as $5, that can be linked directly to Rixty online accounts.

Sorom was able to name vSide, GamesCampus, NHN USA, Perfect World International, and Ntreev USA as platforms that would support Rixty payments at launch in May. Deals are still being worked out, but Sorom expects that at launch Rixty will be supporting roughly 50 different games and other platforms through deals with about 10 to 15 different partners. Integration with Rixty involves installing Rixty's API, which is designed to be compatible with subscription fee payments as well as microtransactions and virtual goods purchases.

“Today, a sixteen year old with $20 in his pocket can spend that money on anything he wants at a local store. Rixty believes he should have that same freedom online. No other online payment system addresses the teen payment challenge as completely,” said Sorom. “We’re thrilled to have a local presence through our Coinstar partnership that will allow teens to connect to the world of online entertainment."

What Rixty is offering sounds very similar to the Ukash voucher system already popular in Europe and other parts of the world, but not available in the US. While services that let you pay across several different games are nothing new, the Coinstar partnership and the ensuing ability for teens to convert change into funds for online payments is interesting, a sort of Spare Change for the unbanked set. Rixty will definitely be a pay provider to keep an eye on later this year.

Posted by staff at March 30, 2009 12:25 PM