Archive for September, 2011

Credit Card FraudUsing a credit card for online purchases always make me a bit skittish.   Yes, I realize that millions of transactions occur daily with no issues.   However, every time I enter the card number, the CVV code, the expiration date and promise that I read the 62 page terms and conditions, I have visions of opening my monthly statement and finding a list of purchases including but not limited to first class tickets, a shopping spree at Versace and a 7-day stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City.  The thought of working with the Fraud department to reverse these fraudulent charges makes me think long and hard how much I really want to make the purchase.

There is a much safer option now available for online purchases and that is Mobile Phone Billing.  This option has three easy steps: 1) I enter my Mobile number and billing zip code on one screen, 2) wait a few seconds for a text message on my phone containing a unique PIN number, 3) enter the PIN number on a second screen and I am done.  Because the PIN number is generated at the time of purchase and is only good for a few minutes for that specific transaction, the opportunity for fraudulent charges to my account are virtually gone.   The charges show up on my monthly mobile bill and I have an easy safe alternative payment option!

The fraud risk is mitigated by the unique PIN text.  My account and credit is protected, the merchant is protected, the phone carrier (billing entity) is protected and the scammers, fraudsters and thieves are shut out.

ILD’s Mobile Phone Billing option is available today for items that are consumed on the internet; this includes online games, streaming movies and TV, periodical subscriptions, technical support, ID theft protection, web conferencing, satellite radio, and the list continues.  Oh – and for parents (and merchants) that are nervous kids may go a bit crazy on the gaming sites – a text is sent to the main billing telephone number so they have an opportunity to reject the purchase!  Just by including this alternative billing option to your checkout page, will increase sales.  It provides  a billing option for consumers who refuse to use credit cards and consumers that do not have credit cards (29% according to a survey on Creditcard.com*).   The added benefit is protecting your revenue from credit card chargebacks on fraudulent credit card charges!

Image Courtesy of Report-Online-Scams.com.

APMs - The Marketing Lesson You Didn’t Get in School

You’re already using the 4 P’s (product, price, promotion, and place) to maximize revenue—but your marketing strategy may be missing the 5th P: payment. Digital stores cannot live by credit cards alone. In fact, merchants who want to maximize their conversion rates need to offer alternative payment methods (APMs) to their shopping carts. Let’s consider a few facts:

  • Interest rates on credit cards have climbed to record highs, with the average APR on a new credit card at nearly 15%.
  • Almost 30% of consumers do not have a credit card.
  • About 9 million U.S. households are unbanked, which means they cannot (or, in some cases, will not) use traditional banking services, like checking accounts or credit cards.
  • Up to 64% of American online retailers have cart abandonment rates over 20%.

Consumers want and need alternative ways to pay for digital products and services.

The good news is that if you’re a merchant who sells digital products and services (content, software, downloads, subscriptions, gaming, etc.) you can offer an LEC billing option, such as ILD Teleservices’ Bill to Phone. What does this alternative payment method, which allows ecommerce shoppers to charge transactions to their phone bill, do for merchants?

  • Provides instant access to more than 150 million North American consumers. What’s more, merchants enjoy access to markets that may have been previously out of reach, such as the unbanked or financially-conscious consumers not willing to pay credit card interest rates.
  • Lowers shopping cart abandonment rates. Shoppers ditch transactions for a variety of reasons, whether they’re reluctant to share credit card info online or don’t want the hassle of opening a merchant account. Merchants who utilize ILD’s Bill to Phone offer consumers a safe and remarkably hassle free way to shop.

Whether you’re selling industry reports for the C-suite or online dating subscriptions for seniors, phone billing allows you to expand your reach and boost conversion. To learn more about lifting revenue with an alternative payment method, like Bill to Phone, contact the payment team at ILD.

 

Image: jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Protect Yourself From Cramming - Do’s and Don’ts

Are you one of the 15 million to 20 million people the FTC estimates are crammed each year? Cramming is when a company adds unauthorized or deceptive charges to a consumer’s phone bill. One of the reasons cramming is so common is that the amounts charged are often small, usually only a few dollars. As a result, many consumers don’t notice they’re paying extra for a product or service they didn’t order. So how can you stop cramming?

  • Do review your phone bill every month. Yes, you’re busy—but one of the best ways to stop cramming is to review every phone bill. Look for charges you haven’t authorized, even if they sound legitimate. If you have ordered a new service, check the bill to make sure you’re being charged for what you ordered—and not more.
  • Don’t cash checks without reading the fine print. Crammers sometimes send checks in small amounts—often a few dollars—to unsuspecting consumers. But by cashing the check, you agree to purchase a product or subscribe to a service that, chances are, you don’t want.
  • Do consider a third-party billing block. A billing block prevents companies from charging your phone bill unless you contact the phone company first to authorize the charge. Contact your local phone company to learn how to place a third-party billing block on your line.
  • Do contact the merchant or phone billing service when you find a suspicious charge.  As soon as you notice an unauthorized transaction, contact the company listed on the line item. Remember, even if you dispute a charge, you’re still required to pay the rest of the phone bill on time.

As a third-party payment processor, ILD Teleservices works closely with its partner merchants to ensure accurate billing.  We screen merchants before we work with them, monitor them to make sure they comply with good business practices, and require them to verify authorization of billing. Learn more about the ILD Consumer Protection Standards of Practice.

If you have questions about a bill, please visit our Help Center.

 

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Things to Do Before You Try Business Gamification

You see consumers latching onto the gamification craze, whether they’re having fun in GagaVille or comparing running stats on Nike+–so how do you take advantage of this exciting new way to engage audiences and nurture long-term relationships? Here are five steps to get you started:

  1. Do your homework. Social performance management company Rypple co-founder Daniel Debow advises tapping into experts who are already immersed in gamification motivation and design via the $50 billion game business. Also consider checking out these resources:
  1. Think strategy. Treat this like any other project: establish concrete objectives that align with corporate goals, then you’ll be able to design the mechanics that help you achieve those objectives.
  2. Choose motivation that makes sense. Will you establish a leaderboard, which ranks users against others? Introduce challenges to engage users with single or team play? Will you use Foursquare-type badges to provide easy-to-recognize social signals regarding status?  Will the tried-and-true points system engage your gamers? Always invest time in determining which mechanics will best engage the target market.
  3. Integrate the right payment system. For businesses that need to complete gamification transactions, it’s critical to choose the right payment processor. Consumers want payment methods that are safe, convenient, and won’t interfere with the game experience. The good news is that gamification is LEC billable, which means consumers can safely and easily charge the transactions to their phone bill.
  4. Invest in long-term participation. Got game? Then you need time. Like social media engagement, gamification is an ongoing process that needs daily TLC. Be sure you have the people-power needed to maintain game mechanics.  

For more info, check out What is Gamification for Business? A Beginner’s Guide.

When it’s time to integrate payments into your gamification strategy, contact ILD Teleservices to learn how our LEC billing system, Bill to Phone, will make transactions seamless and safe.

 

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net