Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

“Don’t look at me, I’m just a kid — bill my parents!”

May 18, 2009

bill2Ah, youth. How free and easy it all seems. Especially after the launch of a new payments system, BillMyParents.

The system geared to teens and tweens — who ideally have good relationships with their hopefully indulgent parents — allows parents to approve purchases coveted by their kids and foot the bill.

The idea of the youth payment system is to capture some of the $40 billion spent by kids who end up shopping at traditional retailers only because without a credit card, they have no way to pay for stuff online, says the company’s chief executive, Jim Collas. Collas is the former chief technology officer for PC maker Gateway.

Whereas consumers have a host of options in online payments systems, including eBay‘s PayPal, Google Checkout and Checkout with Amazon, Collas says his system is the most convenient for parents and teens.
Parents pay 50 cents per total transaction after they approve and pay for their kids’ shopping lists that are automatically sent to them via email or text, and merchants pay a percentage to BillMyParents.
Currently, BillMyParents is powered by with Amazon’s shopping cart integrated into the website. Kids can access the entire inventory of the global online retailer.

BillMyParents, which is owned by Socialwise Inc, plans to have up to a dozen more retailers participating within nine months and the ultimate goal is for the BillMyParents payment button to be integrated into the online retailers’ websites.

Besides the retail angle, Collas sees a huge opportunity in the gaming world, which allows kids to buy virtual goods online — a market estimated at over $1 billion — as they play their favorite video games.
Through partnerships with online gaming sites like Artix Entertainment and social networks, young users will be able to share information, showing off what they’ve ordered and seeing what their friends’ nice parents just bought them. An opt-out is available.
Collas’ goal, he said, is to become “the de facto standard” for youth payment systems. He added: “We do expect to gain momentum very quickly.”

(Photo: BillMyParents)


OMG, how cute! Lets just hope this doesn’t get acquired by PayPal, we need more options. BillMyParents could partner up with family friendly websites and maybe tie it into a safety program. Then again, it might just make them early shopaholics. I just hope that since it’s on Amazon that they don’t dilute the user base there and make it into a play money at Ebay environment. Merchants could freak if it becomes retaliatory towards them in the feedback process too. Anyways, it sounds great.. lets just keep it to kids with parents who have a high disposable income. Not kids who think this is monopoly money

Posted by Fruity | Report as abusive

I would like thisidea better if it were a place for kids to create a wishlist and do chores or achieve goals to earn their allowance towards items. Or perhaps a tool for budgeting for children.I personally am repulsed by the idea of BillMyParents and the values (or lack thereof) that it teaches children in relation to responsibility and money management skills. In addition, I’d be far more impressed with a site that allows kids to select things to give to needy charities vs. things to give themselves that they do not need.

Posted by Jen | Report as abusive

This is a joke, isn’t it???Hey Amazon, re-read this part: “without a credit card, they have no way to pay for stuff online”…Because there’s a REASON they don’t have a credit card. ::Doh!!::

Posted by Brainstorms | Report as abusive

This company is very solid from top to bottom for a startup. I have been following it for sometime at The revenue potential is ridiculous on the low end.Mark my words, this will be a household name.


in response to Jen above, There is many features to this payment system, including teens/tweens having to complete chores or anything else they normally get paid for, to actually get to use the money. Parents have full control.As for as “Brainstorms”. Amazon loses something like 25% of its sales to retail chains because although a parent says yes to the purchase of a certain item, they dont buy it (on Amazon) because they are not going to give their kid their card….this eliminates the problem.Amazon and every other retailer that has seen it, loves this idea.


Damon: NOT in MY household, it won’t be… (My daughter might wine about it once. Or twice.) I’m going to lock the website out of my router. Today.The retailers may love the idea, but parents won’t. My daughter doesn’t buy stuff online not because she lacks a credit card; rather, she lacks a credit card because she’s not allowed to buy things online. That ain’t gonna change until she’s old enough to apply for and be granted her own credit card. Until then, she goes shopping with mommy and/or daddy (on-line or off).And if & when her parents decide to buy something on-line, we’ll go online and do so. I *have* bought things for my daughter on Amazon in the past, and will continue to do so. But the buying decisions rest with me & my wife, NOT my daughter.My daughter is not going to become fodder for retailers to exploit because she’s young & hasn’t formed good judgment regarding finances & purchasing decisions. Think I want another vector encouraging her to lobby us to buy things for her? Think again!!But I’m sure there will be enough “indulgent parents” who will get suckered by this, sure… And more people will slide down the slippery slope of excessive credit card debt in the process.Opt me out, thank you…

Posted by Brainstorms | Report as abusive

So how is this any different from kids filling up their shopping cart, or wishlist, and then getting their parents to enter their card info? I don’t see any service being provided

Posted by Dizzle | Report as abusive

This is very good dialogue between the parties involved. I think if you read the article soberly and unbiased, then you can come to a reasonable opinion about the company and its service. Ultimately, as a parent, I will decide what goes on in my home, however in this current age of technology, you have to adapt and be ahead of the times to keep up with your children. In 5-10yrs, what technologies will your toddlers/adolescents be exposed to? What can you keep from them now, until they go over their best friend’s house or to school and are exposed to?Teach your own children how to shop responsibly online. Teach them WHY now is not a good time to buy an item and how you should NOT buy on impulse.It seems like a rather lazy invention. What kid wouldn’t just “ask mom/dad” over the phone or in person???But honestly, if $40billion dollars identify a product online and go to the retail merchant in person because they don’t have access to a credit card… I’d be foolish not to create a solution!Keep up with the TECHNOLOGY people!! Our children’s morals depend on it!!

Posted by ThinkTank | Report as abusive

Sure some parents dont allow kids to EVER shop online, but this isnt for those people. Thats a small minority. Just going by the numbers, teens spend something like 120+ billion online currently every year.Bill my parents is actually not looking to break in new ground in sales, but capture sales already lost to retail stores. That is the whole point.Amazon alone estimates losses in the hundreds of millions to retailers just because it was inconvenient for a teen to order a item online. This way the parent sets it up once and they are done. Then they can approve/ disapprove each purchase, or if your kids are trustworthy, just look over the purchases they did make. We are not talking spoiled brats here, as the article may suggest.It has numerous applications as a debit card (its not a credit card)as well. Think outside the box. How about Money for tuition, books,food, travel etc. for college students. How about money for kids to buy school clothes and supplies. What about birthdays? Who doesnt buy there kids stuff for that? Or allowing you kids to buy their friends something for there birthdays? Did you ever think it might be nice for you kid to actually pick out a present for their parents? Dad can give little Sarah $20 on a card to buy mom a gift.Some kids get paid for chores, and parents have no idea where the money goes. Some Im sure buy undesirable things, but with a debit card, a parent can see everything.Parents have full control as far as not allowing/ not allowing certain stores, text to freeze accounts etc. If you really think this is a bad idea, you actually A) dont fully understand it…or B)wont use it.Because going by the OVERWHELMING response that the company is getting, this is going to be huge.There is a reason several major retailers like Amazon are extremely interested.Look at the numbers: evised-look-at-bmp-bill-my-parents.htmlJ ust remember same was said of cell phones and teens/tweens only 8-10 years ago. “My kid will never have a cell phone”.


I don’t think that not allowing your children to shop online will prepare them for the reality of life when they are older. This is a safe way to ease into shopping online with your children because it makes it easier to set conditions for purchases.

Posted by mg23 | Report as abusive

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