E-Wallet Firm Hoping New Services Catch On

By Souccar, Miriam Kreinin | American Banker, April 3, 2000 | Go to article overview

E-Wallet Firm Hoping New Services Catch On


Souccar, Miriam Kreinin, American Banker


Now that consumer demand for electronic wallets has proven lackluster, at least one wallet purveyor, Brodia, is trying to pull away from the product and redefine itself in other areas of Internet commerce.

Brodia has been one of the more prominent firms offering electronic wallets, which are supposed to make life easier for people who shop on the Internet. Consumers can load all their shipping and credit card information into a wallet and simply click on the wallet whenever they want to buy something on a Web site. Theoretically the wallet averts the need to retype personal information at each site. But people seem indifferent to this advantage, perhaps since many Web sites let them store information for return visits.

After months of touting the benefits of wallets, Brodia wants to shed this image. Later this month, the San Francisco-based technology company plans to introduce services peripheral to the wallet business. Though it has not provided many details, Ron Martinez, Brodia's chief executive officer, said one new service would pay people to visit certain Web sites or bring in new customers.

"Consumers don't necessarily understand what a wallet means," Mr. Martinez said. "What we're doing is evolving the payment card for the Internet world."

Brodia enjoys marquee partnerships with credit card issuers like MBNA Corp., Providian Financial Corp., and Capital One Financial Corp. Though these companies have made some moves to promote wallet use, little clamor has arisen for the products. Internet analysts say only 3% to 4% of Internet users have heard of the technology.

Mr. Martinez said Brodia wants to move forward by presenting itself as a "personal commerce manager." The company hopes people will find that concept easier to understand.

"Now people tend to think of commerce as something governments and companies do," Mr. Martinez said in a telephone interview. "We want to make an enhancement or an upgrade to your existing credit card service."

Mr. Martinez said Brodia's new services "will make it easier for the user to tell the world what they want, and get what they want from the commercial world. We want to empower consumers in the same way that the big companies are empowered. …

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