Life takes virtual currency

December 8, 2009: 10:00 AM ET

Living in the post-Visa world

By Roger C. Wood, CEO, ORCA Inc.

Wood: Currency is a-changin'. Photo: ORCA

When I was contemplating moving from the wireless sector to the Web sector, I read just about every column Nick Negroponte wrote as a columnist for WIRED Magazine. His departing piece, entitled "Beyond Digital" was published in December 1998 and served as an inspiration to me. After reading it, I left my role as general manager of the International Division for the consortium of mobile start-ups (Voicestream, Omnipoint, Aerial and Powertel) that became T-Mobile USA  and joined Reebok International to launch the first multi-national interactive division of any Fortune 1000 company, launching e-commerce sites in 36 separate countries. This opinion piece is an ode to that pivotal article.

Nine-year-old Boy #1 - "I like Fusion Fall. It's kind of a mission game; it's not like a chatting game. Sometimes I like to play chat, that's why I like Club Penguin. But now I like Fusion better, mostly it's just more fun to earn Taros and Nanos and Fusion Matter. I like spending Fusion Matter because I can get more HP and cool clothes. And, it loads my clothes super fast."

Nine-year-old Boy #2 – "I hate Adventurequest because it's just an RPG and it looks like no one else is there. I like to earn prestige and HP. I get hurt all the time, so I need to buy HP all the time. I haven't figured out all of the shopkeepers in Fusion Fall, but there are different types. The power shopkeeper seems like the best."

"Load my clothes"? "Prestige and HP"? "Power shopkeeper"? If you have no idea what these kids are talking about, welcome to the post-VISA world of virtual currency.  The very nature of basic transactions will be transformed by this generation and this piece of a kid's conversation is just the beginning.

No matter what you call it – virtual currency, s-commerce, contextual payments, in-apps buying or stored value – young people want to pay for things in little pieces without leaving the entertainment experience. More

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