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Alternative Billing At Internext

Stephen Yagielowicz

One of the great benefits of an industry event such as Internext is the networking opportunities where you can enjoy more intimate - and informative - conversations with your peers than you might have on, say, a typical adult Webmaster message board.

Many of these high-level ‘peer to peer’ discussions focus on current events within the industry, and some of the best focus on topics covered within the seminars - a too often overlooked resource. For Webmasters hoping to stay current in an evolving marketplace, Internext seminars often provide insights and clarity for the attendees who realize the value of interactive learning time away from the hustle and bustle of the show floor; and this time around, the opportunity to expand my understanding of some current alternative billing methods presented itself.

“From online check processing and pre-paid cards to a new generation of dialers and secure credit cards created for use online, alternative billing solutions are the perennial Next Big Thing.” Or so the seminar I attended on this second day of Internext was billed (no pun intended), and with that introduction, a hard topic for me to resist learning more about.

Given all of the changes occurring in the credit card processing arena with VISA / MasterCard creating an ongoing climate of confusion and uncertainty for online merchants in the adult marketplace, today’s savvy Webmaster has no choice but to explore alternative mechanisms for monetizing his content. Even without the influence of VISA / MasterCard, the myriad opportunities presented by our global marketplace dictate that we provide payment alternatives for international users who either do not have a VISA or MasterCard, or who simply choose not to use it for the purchase of online pornography.

Helping to shed some light on the issues and options involved in alternative billing was an experienced panel of experts including Benet Garcia of CNWB, ElectraCash’s Fitz D. Dearmore, Peter Kusner from Invisipaid, ePassporte’s Chris Mallick, and Bjorn Skarlen from nocreditcard.com - experts who presented some compelling arguments about the need for, and availability of, alternatives to the dominant methods of recurring site membership fee payments.

The Need for Alternatives
Most of the panelists spoke about the need for alternative billing mechanisms: “Alternative billing is only going to attract more customers” said Invisipaid’s Peter Kusner, acknowledging the difference between a prospect, and a customer who might have the will, but not the means, to join your site, or to purchase your product - a sentiment that was echoed by CNWB’s Benet Garcia; “We’re trying to provide as many access points as possible to the content the consumer wants.”

When audience members questioned the real need for alternative billing methods, and whether there were enough prospects to make implementing any new billing technology worthwhile, nocreditcard.com’s Bjorn Skarlen - an expert in payment alternatives for many global markets - offered “…the client is out there for sure, and we want to make it easy for him to get to your content.” He went on to explain how ‘dialers’ have evolved into sophisticated tools for monetizing either your own, or the sponsor’s, content regardless of the customer’s location, or method of Internet access.

Given VISA / MasterCard’s refusal to allow their cards to be used as positive proof of the user’s age, the subject of age verification through alternative billing methods was predictably brought up. Kusner, who markets a pre-paid access card available at retail outlets, said that they “…required carding for age on adult prepaid cards at the point of sale,” - proof positive of the card holder’s age.

Biometrics, Dearmore declared, was the key to positive user identification, including age: “Electracash has a biometric solution for age verification that confirms both the user and his age.” ePassporte’s Chris Mallick added that “There’s a couple of applications for biometrics including risk management designed to reduce the occurrence of chargebacks.”

The worldwide acceptance of payment alternatives was also discussed with a focus on both regional viability (for instance, ACH payments are only available in the US and Canada), as well as consumer acceptance of these methods, with the consensus being the Webmaster adoption of these alternatives was a precursor to consumer adoption.

While it seems that many Webmasters are reluctant to implement payment alternatives, the underlying wisdom that marketers can profit by making it as easy as possible for consumers to purchase their product or service using the method that they are most comfortable with rings true. Stay tuned for more...

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