Teenagers and tweens – children aged between 9 and 12 – represent a huge retail market worth over $130 billion annually in the US alone.
The internet is a major factor in product selection yet despite this Socialwise, a US e-commerce company, estimates that $40 billion is spent offline by teenagers on products researched online.
The reason is simply the absence of a method to pay for online purchases. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2007 revealed that 40 percent of US teenagers cited not having a credit card as the reason they do not shop online, a situation Socialwise is tackling with the launch of its online payments service BillMyParents.
“The online teen spending market is hugely underserved and BillMyParents is uniquely poised to tap into the desire for teens to be able to shop online, while still letting parents maintain control in a safe and secure environment,” explained James Collas, CEO of Socialwise.
The new service is simple. In essence, once teenagers using BillMyParents have made an online purchase selection Socialwise sends a notification to a parent or other adult guardian by email or mobile phone text, via an automated, instantaneous system.
Parents then review the selection(s) and can approve or deny each request individually, or as a group.
For the approved selections, the parent enters their credit card information to complete the transaction.
According to Socialwise the process can be completed within minutes without the teenager or merchant gaining access to sensitive credit card details or other personal information.
Among the first online retailers accessible via BillMyParents are Amazon.com and online games specialist Artix Entertainment.
“Many of our 80 million registered users worldwide are under 18,” commented Artix business development manager Daniel Vasile.
Socialwise has already launched other products, all focused on exploiting the potential offered by social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.
Products on offer include a group gift card application which enables multiple individuals to contribute towards a gift. A similarly focused debit card is soon to be launched.