Hi-Media Payments, a leader in Europe’s virtual currency and microtransaction world, recently opened up an office in San Francisco to start its American version of the Allopass payments system. The Allopass payments system is a large platform in Europe, servicing 250,000 merchants and seeing 7 million transactions a month, with 15 million Euros changing hands. With their initial client list including mostly other offer and monetization providers like Peanut Labs and Sometrics, we can see that Allopass is positioning itself as a uniter of currencies, and attempting to be a large player in the virtual monetization game.
The San Francisco office is headed by Pooj Preena, a former Skype Executive who also had a brief tenure with OMGPOP. He definitely has the experience in the world of online monetization and gaming, and should be able to help the Allopass system integrate smoothly with the many clients who have already signed on. He recently told MocoNews that “We’ve been doing this for eight to nine years. We started with selling content, before social gaming took off – it’s only been in the last 18 to 24 months where there’s been a substantial shift into digital and to content again.”
The Hi-Media group of websites has over 50 million monthly unique visitors, and the fact that they’ve been driving payments for non-gaming related goods means that their focus was surely on optimizing the purchase-flow and ease-of-purchase. Their integration of online checkouts; mobile, home phone or internet billing; premium SMS; credit and debit cards, prepaid cards and Allopass electronic wallet means that users really have flexibility in making their transactions. Notable here is the lack of any type of offer-based service, which means that competitors like Offerpal and TrialPay may still have edges. The nature of the virtual currency game can be tricky here, because those companies have the opportunity to work with Allopass or against it. It all depends on their positioning and how much of the customer payment workflow they want to own.
Certainly, the number of players in the microtransaction platform world is increasing every day. Companies like Boku and Zong offer similar services: Zong allows players to pay with their mobile phones directly through the carriers and Boku does the same, but usually with aggregator middlemen. Hi-Media, who also establish direct relationships with carriers, will have an advantage in that sense as well, but in my opinion the big differentiator will be in the customer offering. If the services don’t really offer fast turnaround on purchase-flow, they won’t be able to keep up in a sea of competitors. Also, throwing something like Facebook Currency into the mix, if social games start to leverage that type of currency, it becomes different to introduce any type of third party monetization without having it seem forced.