March 6, 2009, 12:00 AM

Shoebuy.com implements a new direct-from-bank-account payment method

The e-retailer expects to be live by late April with Moneta, a payment method that aims to build a following among low-risk consumers by partnering with banks.

Online shoe and accessories retailer Shoebuy.com is among the first online retailers to implement a new payment method called Moneta that enables consumers to pay for online purchases directly from their bank accounts.

“We’re big believers in giving customers choice, and as part of that we’re believers in alternative payments,” says Jim Keller, senior vice president of marketing at Shoebuy.com, a unit of IAC, No. 26 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Besides major payment cards, Shoebuy.com already accepts PayPal, Google Checkout, Bill Me Later and eBillme. He would not disclose what percentage of transactions are made with those payment systems, but says, “It’s a meaningful part of the business.”

Moneta emerged last fall out of Checkfree Corp., a major provider of the technology that underpins bank online bill payment systems. Using technology developed by Checkfree, Moneta enables registered customers to pay at online retail sites by entering a user name and password specific to Moneta.

Like Checkfree, Moneta processes payments through the automated clearinghouse system, or ACH, the low-cost system for transferring payments between banks. However, the ACH does not permit a real-time check of a consumer’s bank account, which means there is a risk the purchaser would not have sufficient funds in his account. Moneta expects the risk to be low because it is targeting consumers with established bank relationships, says Guido Sacchi, CEO of Moneta.

Moneta and retailers like Shoebuy.com will share the risk of transactions that bounce back because of insufficient funds. Retailers can minimize risk by limiting the amount that can be charged through Moneta or the number of transactions in a given time period, Sacchi says. “We have our own controls to manage fraud,” Keller says. “It’s absolutely not one of our concerns going into this.”

Moneta will charge merchants fees based on volume, but typically the fees will be in the range of 1.1-1.2% of the transaction amount plus 10 cents, Sacchi says. The merchant set-up fee of $25,000 is being waived through June 1, he says.

Moneta is being offered as a payment method by Delta Air Lines and ID90T, an online ticketing service for airline employees. Sacchi says Moneta plans to develop cross-promotions among participating merchants, for instance, offering a discount at Shoebuy.com when someone buys a ticket for a Delta flight.

But the company’s primary growth strategy is to partner with retail banks that would offer the service to their customers. Moneta plans to share the fee it charges online retailers with the banks, an attractive lure at a time when banks’ credit card revenue is declining, Sacchi says. “We are very confident we will announce partnerships with a couple of fairly major banks before the summer,” he says.

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