Billing Outside the Box

Stewart Tongue
As the universe of adult paysites continues to grow, finding a new niche or offering an innovative technological breakthrough is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive for program owners. While content might be on its way toward greater uniformity from one site to the next, successful sponsors are finding other ways to think outside the box, and in a downward-spiraling economy, any prudent program owner already knows that he or she can't afford to miss catching on quickly to new revenue streams.

One of the key mistakes many new paysite owners make is allowing themselves to be convinced that they are in the business of selling adult content. In fact, that's only half of the equation: The reality is that they are in the business of selling adult content to people who purchase it electronically, and that requires a very different mindset. During the adult video store days or in strip clubs worldwide, consumers can pay cash for their vices, which allowed traditional XXX businesses to be somewhat recession-proof in the past. However, Internet-based entertainment transactions are made almost exclusively with credit cards, and as credit spending tightens, so do the reins on your web property's profitability.

Some reasons for a signup slowdown are beyond the webmaster's control. If a potential customer loses their income, it is unlikely that any alternative billing apparatus would provoke a sale or rebill. However, there are many less severe reasons why credit spending might be curtailed, and this article contains information about companies that are opening up the arteries of electronic commerce for their clients in new "cardless" ways.

"When we ask our members why they use TrustCash, their reasons come down to three simple things: TrustCash is anonymous, secure and private," said Kent Carasquero of TrustCash. "We all know a percentage of people leave a membership site because they are concerned about identity theft, unscrupulous cross-sales, nondiscreet billing statement descriptors or any number of other personal obstacles. The TrustCash experience is the solution to capture those lost sales."

TrustCash is a dynamic prepaid currency provider. Members of its program can purchase TrustCash credits online and then redeem those credits at any participating website in mainstream or adult. Assuring members that their anonymity is secure while protecting their privacy by keeping the actual names of the products they purchase off of their billing statements has proved to be a useful way of coaxing consumers to complete their desired purchases.

"We provide a unique experience both for the webmaster and the consumer," Carasquero said. "TrustCash is simple, free to integrate, and there are no consumer fees or any hidden chargeback fees. The TrustCash brand continues to build a rock-solid reputation with thousands of new members joining each month. Offering TrustCash as a payment option services the needs of your client and is an important way to show your potential clients that you understand their need for privacy when purchasing adult products or services online."

It is worth emphasizing the point that because TrustCash is a prepaid payment system, consumers do not need to "go find their credit card" at the moment they wish to buy any participating website membership. Also, because the amounts are prepaid, there is zero risk of a chargeback by the consumer for the purchase that takes place on your join page.

Another alternative billing method that has been gaining momentum among webmasters comes from Electracash Payments, a leading provider of Internet payment processing services, whose Signature Safe and Check 21 processing products have been getting a lot of positive attention lately.

Signature Safe allows consumers to provide payments via e-check with a verifiable electronic signature that they enter using their standard computer mouse. Coupled with the new Check 21 service, which allows banks to process substitute checks using digital images of the originals, the floodgates for online purchases to be made without any credit card at all finally are being pushed open.

"This new image-exchange capability brings an important new element of archiving and fraud protection technology crucial for the evolution of financial services companies as online commerce continues to change and credit card funds become increasingly scarce for consumers," said Lee Falls, CEO of Electracash Payments. "New laws clearly define the requirements of electronic payments and usher in a new era of heightened data security which should encourage a spike in new products including online access to check images as banks move to eliminate paper in their quest to become more cost-effective entities."

According to reports cited by Electracash, 45 percent of checks deposited with the Federal Reserve are now in an Image Cash Letter (ICL) format, and the numbers are growing. Perhaps the best way to restore the recession-proof protection of servicing the adult market will be to find ways like these that essentially allow consumers to go back to paying cash for services, even when the transactions are being processed via the Internet.

Another notable example of cardless purchasing comes from the Epoch MemberPlus feature for upsells. It allows websites that have Epoch as their primary processor to offer their members advertised upsells from within their members area that consumers can authorize as charges to their existing credit card information with a couple clicks rather than going to find their card for an entirely new transaction.

"Epoch's upsell feature, MemberPlus, allows members to be instantly upgraded from a trial to a full membership or to purchase access to an additional site without the need to re-enter their card number," said Rand Pate, director of communications at Epoch. "The process is very clear and requires the member to qualify the sale but at the same time makes it easier for them to purchase additional products they actually want. By reducing friction, you increase sales. Epoch clients can upsell to other sites they own or cross-sell to any other Epoch client, thus providing a large market segment to choose from."

The many benefits of a cardless point of sale already are becoming well known to early adopters of the technology.

"Epoch's MemberPlus has been an outstanding tool for us," said EuroRevenue CEO Todd Glider. "It's keyed a string of lucrative partnerships with other companies processing with Epoch. We use it to trade one-click joins inside our respective members areas. Implementation is a breeze, and we see immediate results every time."

It's ironic that in the wake of so many claims about a rash of illegal carding conspirators masquerading as adult online program owners, the real future of adult billing is likely to be an entirely cardless process eventually. Privacy, anonymity and security will be assured for each customer who decides to purchase adult entertainment electronically, and no more need to run for their wallet while reaching for the signup button.


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