The Arrival of Virtual Pocket Money
Financial services companied are rushing to provide teenagers with easier ways of spending their savings online, says John William.
They like using theInternet. They have lots of money to spend. And they spend a higher proportion of it online than the rest of us. Teenagers are just the sort of people an Internet retailer wants to sell to, and the thingsthey want to buy—games, CDs and clothing—are easily sold on the web.
But paying online is a tricky business for consumers who are too young to own credit cards. Most have to use a parent’s card. “Kidsare frustrated with the Web,” says Phil Bettison, European Managing Director of WorldPay, an Internet payments company. “They want a facility that allows them to spend money.”
That may come soonerthan they think: new ways to take pocket money into cyberspace are springing up on both sides of the Atlantic. If successful, these products could provide an important stimulus to online sales.
Ingeneral, teenagers spend enormous amounts: Visa calculates it totaled $153bn in the US last year, while the UK market is estimated at £20bn ($29.4bn) annually by NOP, the market research group. Mostteenagers have access to the Internet at home or at school—88 percent in the US, 69 percent in the UK.
One in eight of those with Internet access has bought something online ---mainly CDs and music. Inthe US, 12-to 17-year-olds spend an average of six hours a month online, according to Jupiter Research. One in six buys over the Internet, with CDs, books, games, videos and clothing the most popularitems.
In most cases, parents pay for these purchases with credit cards, an arrangement that is often unsatisfactory for them and their children: “Pressing parents to spend online is less productivethan pressing on the high street. A child who sees a pair of shoes in a shop can usually persuade the parent to buy them. They’re more likely to ask “Why?” id you ask to spend some money online,”...
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