opinion

Are Processors Parasites?

Marc Jarrett
The open-source encyclopaedia Wikipedia defines Parasitism thus: "a phenomenon in which two organisms which are phylogenetically unrelated co-exist over a prolonged period of time, usually their entire life."

Whilst the above definition is usually applied in the context of the animal kingdom, parallels can be drawn when observing the relationship that exists between web content owners and billing companies: one cannot exist without the other.

In fact, the space in which the two operate could hardly be more different. But the best adult site ever created would be a commercial disaster if it did not offer an efficient billing mechanism to convert surfers into paying customers.

Likewise, the best processor known to man would quickly perish if compelling content was not available as a result of using its services.

With this in mind, it is imperative that the two parties work together to explore ways to make the most from their marriage. An example of this is are the geo-IP pages in 37 languages that Password-By-Phone creates free of charge for our clients – after all, if they make more money, so do we.

The rationale behind offering such pages is frighteningly obvious – a surfer from Japan, for example, is far more likely to part with his hard earned Yen if he sees a call-to-action to pay you in Japanese.

As a global phone billing company, we have never viewed credit card processors as "competition" – which is why we offer clients the option of adding a Visa/MasterCard logo to their geo-IP page and posting 'credit card' surfers straight to their credit card processor if required.

The credit card is and remains the best billing mechanism for monthly subscriptions. But phone billing is a great way to offer trials – after all, everyone who has access to the Internet by definition has access to a phone line.

In fact, if you are a content owner, billing polygamy should be positively encouraged: No one payment processor has the ability to focus on all the billing options available, which is why you should cherry-pick the best in their field and offer them all.

Over and above credit card billing, this should include pre-paid billing, taking subscription fees directly from regular checking accounts, SMS billing for trials, and of course global phone billing.

We as a processor are only all too aware that both our, and other billing solutions, are totally redundant without one vital ingredient – great content. Since this an area in which our clients and not us specialize, we are keen to work proactively with them and help them squeeze very last cent from their international traffic with our powerful geo-IP global billing technology.

After all, by the time you have read this far, someone, somewhere in the world has excitedly opened the box of their first PC and is about to go online for the very first time.

Webmasters are sitting on digital content with access to a global audience, not only through the web, but via the mobile Internet also, which can be compared to its fixed cousin back in 1996. Without them, we would have no business model, since they have the vital ingredient needed in order to succeed in e-commerce – traffic.

By the same token, webmasters would quickly go broke if they did not have a billing mechanism to covert their pixels into profits.

The term parasite has always had negative connotations. Perhaps "mutualism," wherein both species benefit from the interaction, is a more apt analogy of this marriage of convenience.

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