Friendster Launches Global Partnership With MOL AccessPortal Berhad (MOL) to Power Micropayments and the Friendster Wallet
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Friendster, Inc., a top global web site based on traffic, today announced a global partnership with MOL AccessPortal Berhad (MOL), a leading payments provider leveraging a network of over 500,000 physical and virtual payment channels worldwide, to power the Friendster Wallet and a payments platform enabling micro-spending for over 115 million users on Friendster. The Friendster Wallet will support a variety of payment methods including pre-paid cards, mobile payments, online payments and credit card payments. The partnership will be celebrated by an official signing ceremony event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 15th, at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel & Convention Centre. Both the payments platform and wallet will initially launch in Malaysia, and will be rolled out within weeks throughout Southeast Asia and globally.
Friendster’s new payments platform and wallet are fundamental enablers for several new, additional revenue streams that result from establishing a transactional, financial relationship with its users. Shortly, Friendster will introduce virtual gifts, goods and games turning Friendster into an increasingly fun, online entertainment destination for users and their friends. These new entertainment offerings will be free to use and will also include optional premium elements that will generate significant new revenue streams – all of which are proven business and revenue models in Asia where Friendster is a leading web site. These new transaction-based revenue streams are in addition to Friendster’s current advertising and sponsorship revenue models that are an integral part of the business going forward and the user experience.
Since most youth consumers in Asia do not possess credit cards, the availability of alternate payment methods is essential for Friendster’s core user base to spend and transact within the community. The Friendster Wallet will offer critical alternative payment methods such as prepaid “top-up” cards, which can be purchased at readily-accessible convenience stores such as 7-Eleven. Users can buy a physical pre-paid card at thousands of offline locations throughout Asia with cash, and then enter the unique code from the card into the Friendster Wallet to receive the money as credit into his or her account. Friendster will store account balances and allow users to make purchases on Friendster.com for gifts, games, goods and services.
As part of the partnership, MOL will provide a variety of payment capabilities for Friendster users, including the virtual wallet, transaction management, pre-paid physical cards, support for multiple payment methods, and fraud management. Some of the payment methods MOL supports are operated by MOL directly, and some are provided via integration with third-party providers, like PayPal. The MOL platform is used today on a variety of large scale web sites and supports payments for transactions surrounding goods, services, gifts, online games, premium content, and e-commerce for applications and 3rd party integrations.
The Friendster Wallet will enable stored credit for each Friendster user in a currency called “Friendster Coins.” It can be spent throughout Friendster’s site for goods and services. The wallet will also include a non-monetary, marketing currency called “Friendster Chips” — funding incentive-based promotions, educating users on how the Friendster Wallet works (and how to give gifts to their friends), as a marketing tool to use in conjunction with special offers, and as a loyalty program to encourage continued prepayment and spending on Friendster.
“We’re excited to work with MOL, as they’re a payments platform leader throughout our major markets in Asia,” said Richard Kimber, chief executive officer at Friendster. “Just like PayPal eliminated ‘payment friction’ in the globally successful eBay marketplace for buyers and sellers, MOL will help Friendster deliver many new and important revenue streams by seamlessly powering micro-transactions for a wealth of premium entertainment and content features.”
“Through this strategic partnership, we’re enabling many users to pay for goods and services online, for the first time, and in doing so, creating a valuable transactional ecosystem on Friendster,” said Ganesh Kumar Bangah, president and chief executive officer at MOL. “We’re excited to extend our payments platform exponentially via this relationship, as both companies will benefit from the continuous loading and spending within the Friendster Wallet.”
For launch, the Friendster Wallet will support a variety of payment options including pre-paid payment cards; available throughout Southeast Asia, purchased at convenience stores such as 7- Eleven in Malaysia and Philippines, mobile phone shops such as Oke Shop in Indonesia, kiosks such as AXS in Singapore and cybercafe networks in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The wallet will also support mobile payments from Singtel GX Credits and Indosat iPay. Online banking payments from Maybank, CIMB Bank, RHB Bank, Citibank Singapore, UOB and DBS will also be accepted as well as credit card payments from American Express, Visa and Mastercard.
Moving forward, the Friendster Wallet will be extended to third parties like partners, game publishers, application developers and others. These payment APIs will allow third parties to leverage Friendster Coins as a payment method or incorporate Friendster Coins in their games, applications, products and web sites.
The launch event in Kuala Lumpur will include a press conference, signing ceremony, and presentations by both Richard Kimber and Ganesh Kumar Bangah, CEOs of Friendster and MOL, respectively.
With more than 115 million members worldwide, Friendster is a leading global online social network. Friendster is focused on helping people stay in touch with friends and discover new people and things that are important to them. Friendster is one of the best sites that allow people to meaningfully participate with others in exciting and fun ways. Friendster prides itself in delivering an easy-to-use, friendly and interactive environment where users can easily connect with anyone around the world via www.friendster.com or m.friendster.com from any Internet-ready mobile device. Friendster has a growing portfolio of patents granted to the company on social networking, with more expected over the next several months. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Friendster is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, IDG Ventures and individual investors. For more information, visit: www.friendster.com
MOL is a MSC Malaysia Status Company that operates and develops payment systems. MOL handles over 60,000,000 payment transactions a year with an annual payment volume of over USD200million. It leverages on a network of over 500,000 physical and virtual payment channels across more than 75 countries and linked to 65 banks in 15 countries worldwide to operate its key payment products, namely MOLePoints: an online micropayment system for content and services, MOLeTopUp: an electronic prepaid distribution infrastructure, MOL Freedom: a multi-application prepaid payment card, Gameshive: an online game payment aggregator, MOL Wings: a payment aggregator for wired and wireless internet service providers, MOL Zone: a multi-application mobile payment service, and MOL Safepay: an escrow-based payment system for micro-merchants.
MOL was recognized as one of Asia Pacific’s fastest growing technology companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific Awards in 2005 and 2006 and has won a Merit Award for the Best of E-Commerce Applications in the MSC Asia Pacific ICT Awards.
SOURCE Friendster, Inc.