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The Next Big Thing: Frictionless, Wireless, Virtual Economies

Topics: Technology | 1 CommentBy admin | February 27, 2010

Will the mobile phone powered transfer of virtual currencies created by online games and social networking allow the millenials to Twitter away their inheritances?

A couple of years ago I had a neighbor who made a few hundred extra dollars a month playing online games. How did he get paid to play games? By acquiring virtual goods like magic weapons and selling them to other numb-nuts who would actually pay real money to advance in the same online games. If you’re not already familiar with the idea, it may sound absurd, but it has become quite an industry, sometimes referred to as Gold Farming. And over the past year, it’s started taking an even stranger turn. The web sites IMVU and myYearbook have established a cross-site virtual currency exchange, and some think Facebook Credits will not only expand the site’s revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, but may even become the de facto currency of the Internet. Although as of this writing, the idea of connecting these “economies” into a larger exchange remains in its infancy, IMVU and myYearbook have also launched Currency Connect, which promises the rollout of more virtual currency partners throughout 2010, and VirtualCurrencyPlatforms.com currently lists 27 viable platforms. So how seriously should we take these new virtual economies? Pretty seriously, according to the Chinese government, which fears that instabilities in virtual economies could destabilize real money, among other things. Add to the speculative possibilities of all this real and imaginary money changing hands the emerging models for frictionless and inexpensive money transfers using mobile phone-based tools like Twitpay, Square, OboPay, GetGiving, Zong, and Kwedit, and the possibilities for truly viable virtual economies are enormous. Below are a few demos of the leading-edge startups, and quick summaries of how each service works. You can also find a more in-depth look at these “frictionless” transaction ideas in this Wired piece.

Using Square To Process Credit Card Payments On Your i Phone:

Using Obopay On Your iPhone:

Got a PayPal account? Got a Twitter account? TwitPay makes paying someone as easy as updating your status.

square logo
uses a small swipe device that plugs into your iPhone and allows you to accept credit payment cards without a contract or monthly fees. They also donate a penny of every transaction to the cause of your choice.

lets you buy digital content and virtual goods and pay with cash. You can pay at a 7-Eleven, pay with cash through the US mail, or “Pass the Duck”, which means letting a friend or family member pay on your behalf using a credit card or other Kwedit Direct option.

is a downloadable mobile application that creates a frictionless method for making a contribution to charity via your iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows Mobile device

zong logo
lets users buy things by putting the item on their monthly mobile phone bill.

Obopay logo
lets you add money from your bank or credit card account to your Obopay account, and then send money to anyone with a mobile phone number.

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  1. Posted by U Flattr Me at dissociatedpress.com on 10.31.10 12:50 am

    [...] a small way you were financially supporting the thing you liked? We’ve talked about the new frictionless, wireless economy before, but one service we missed was Flattr. Flattr is an ingenious new service brought to us by some of [...]