A Pago Update

Late last year the ASB Bank launched Pago, a mobile and online payment service. If you’re not familiar with the offering, a quick introduction: “Pago allows customers to make digital cash payments to friends and families online or via their mobile phone. They can also shop online without a credit card.” For the full sales pitch, head over to Pago.co.nz.

The main benefit of Pago, at least from a Trade Me perspective: Pago allows buyers to send instant cleared payments to sellers. If you have enough money in your Pago account (you can store up to $200) just send a text or email to the seller. If they have a Pago account as well, they get the money instantly. It speeds up the buying process as quickly as — well, as quickly as using a credit card.

At the time that Pago was launched, sellers couldn’t offer credit card processing on Trade Me unless they had their own merchant account or were signed up to PayPal. Pago seemed a great alternative, offering instant payment possibilities (although with the minor inconvenience of both buyer and seller having to set up a Pago account). Pago and Trade Me seemed a natural fit, with the Trade Me’s younger audience so wedded to their mobiles already. 

Unfortunately for Pago, however, Australian credit-card processor PayMate turned up on Trade Me (offering credit cards as a payment option) not long after Pago launched, to be followed in mid-2007 by Trade Me’s own credit card service Pay Now. Buyers, given the choice of using Pago or their existing credit card, are more likely to follow the path of least resistance — using a facility with which they’re already familiar. As a result, there’s been no particular pressure on Trade Me sellers to offer the Pago service.    

That said, however, there’s been some promotion of Pago of late, especially on the ASB Bank’s website, and it’s obviously having some effect. Latest Pago statistics:

  • The Pago service is now growing by 200 customers a day 
  • Pago has attracted more than 15,000 customers in 12 months
  • Christmas shoppers have boosted transactions by 300% in November 2007
  • The average Pago transaction is around $22

If you’re a Trade Me seller, you should offer as many payment options as possible. There may not be many Pago customers right now, but the sign-up process is pretty painless — and the offering might just one day create a sale that you wouldn’t otherwise have had.

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