Brodia.com Enters Digital Wallet Space
Brodia.com -- the new moniker derives from a variety of flower -- is entering a digital wallet field already populated by several players scrambling for an early lead. But executives at the San Francisco firm hope to gain an edge over "first movers" in the space by marketing Brodia.com technology through banks directly to the customers of those financial institutions.
CEO Ron Martinez told DM News his firm has already struck a deal with No. 1 credit card issuer MBNA Corp., Wilmington, DE, and is in talks with other "big names" he would not specify. MBNA will coax its customers to join Brodia's service through account statement stuffers; at least one other player is discussing putting Brodia's URL on the back of ATM receipts.
"There's going to be a lot of action in this space over the next couple months," Martinez said. "The banks that we're talking to now have over 120 million card users."
Brodia.com decided to call part of its service the "shopping remote" after its pre-launch market research indicated that people dislike the idea of online "wallets." Consumers who sign onto the service will enter their credit card numbers, addresses and other purchasing information online, and Brodia.com will encrypt that data onto its server. The remote automatically completes online order forms at e-commerce sites.
The other half of the service, called the "shopping console," tracks consumers' purchase records and manages e-mail from merchants. More directly relevant to Brodia.com's bottom line, the console lets Net shoppers opt to receive exclusive offers and discounts from cyber-merchants.
"We really do conceive of it as a direct response medium," Martinez said.
Brodia.com plans to intermittently post links to special offers from specific Net retailers on individual consumers' consoles. Merchants Brodia.com has signed onto its service - a total of 260 e-tailers as of last week - will pay the firm commissions averaging between 5 percent and 15 percent on sales. Martinez said he anticipates conversion rates of about 10 percent from the offers.
The shopping remote part of Brodia.com's service looks like an on-screen credit card, and both the remote and the console are branded primarily not as Brodia.com products but as products of the financial institutions that join in the venture. The company hopes trust customers have in their credit card issuers will translate into quick acceptance of its service.
Brodia.com plans eventually to add editorial content, such as customer reviews of products, to the console part of its service.
The company has been involved in a flurry of activity this month. In conjunction with America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and other technology and financial players, the company on June 14 helped launch a universal format for core data elements related to digital wallets called Electronic Commerce Modeling Language. The format streamlines the way electronic merchants collect shipping and billing information.
Credit card concerns Visa, Mastercard and American Express all joined the ECML agreement.