This year proved fruitful for the largest ecommerce payment system in Russia known today as WebMoney. The company adopted a number of measures directed at improving its services and enhancing its popularity and presence in other markets. Yet, irrespective of the company’s ambitions to match against PayPal, and its background of 10 years operation in the sector WebMoney has still much to do in order to be treated not only as a Russian Internet payments provider but as a respected international service.
Skimming through the information about WebMoney available in Russian Internet resources you are likely to run across dedicated websites that advise the public about all the events and latest developments taking place in life the payment processor. Most of these sites which by the way bear the brand name of the company are supported or most likely sponsored by the company itself. One of them is owebmoney.ru, a Latin transliteration of the Russian phrase that means “about WebMoney”. The site really proves to contain abundant information about all the innovations, new agreements and partnerships as well as tutorials on how to work with the system.
In the article posted today “WebMoney 2008: 10 events we will remember” owebmoney.ru lists most important developments and updates implemented by the company during the passing year. We would like to draw our readers’ attention to the article foreword: “The situation in the world of digital money was as uneasy as the general environment. E-gold was forced to go into anabiosis. Rupay was sold to RBK and most probably that it will soon disappear at all. In Russia as well as in the Western countries new payment systems started operating though they will not manage to make their way to the leadership. It is pleasant to note that there are at least some businesses that show enviable stability in this mad world. Surely, we are talking about WebMoney now”. Well, the style does not provoke surprised faces as long as arrogance becomes more and more a commercial strategy and credo of the company and its affiliates. Well, we will cover it in more details a little later, but let us point to their achievements first of all.
Some remarkable improvements
1. This year the company launched a new processing service that allows businesses to accept WebMoney payments on their websites in a much simplified way. With the new rules online merchants in Russia and the Ukraine no longer need to register in the system. They get their personal cabinet where they can adjust their settings and look through the statistics. In fact the system handles the processing while merchants just receive their regular wire transfers on their bank accounts in accordance with the agreement on payments reception.
2. At the end of the year WebMoney announced about its extension to Europe having launched its new project WebMoney.EU. The service allows European institutions and banks to issue their own digital money including WM title notes in strict compliance with the legislation of the EC. WM notes can be exchanged, united and used to make payments for the services and purchases on the sites of the merchants signed to WebMoney.EU.
3. In February and March the company introduced new versions of its Keeper Mobile (previously known as GSM Keeper – an application for mobile devices) 2.3.1 and 2.3.2/ the main upgrade applied to these applications was that new users can subscribe for the service and get their wallets within the software itself. Previously customers had to go to telepat.ru in order to register their Keeper Mobile. Thus there is no need in PC access to the Internet as long as the application can be easily downloaded and installed via the WAP browser.
4. A number of new businesses were subscribed to the system including World of Warcraft, Rambler, Vkontakte.ru, Ucash, BigMir.Net, utilities providers in Russia and the Ukraine, mobile companies in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Moldova. Besides, some companies started providing online booking services by means of WebMoney such as airlines, railways as well as events, theaters and movies. Among them there are http://Mobiticket.ru/ , http://kassir.ru/ , http://www.19-00.ru/ , http://iGlobe.ru/ , http://Roboxchange.com/ , http://www.ufs-online.ru/ .
5. WM Merchant service was upgraded to include instant automatic exchange. If a merchant wants to be paid in one currency while a buyer has another the latter is offered to exchange their title notes to the notes of the merchant. The exchange is performed directly in the process on the transaction and is transparent to the payer. As for the payee they get the currency they needed. Thus, customers will be able to pay for their purchases at different merchants that accept different currencies.
6. WM Guarantor in Russia started offering its users to withdraw their funds from ruble wallets through the money transfer service UNIStream available on the site perevod.webmoney.ru. The user can receive their cash at any bank branch office subscribed to UNIStream (a few thousands of points across Russia) without any need in opening a settlement account. Guarantor in the Ukraine started providing similar services in the Ukraine too having partnered with the local instant money transfer services.
7. During 2008 WebMoney payment processor achieved a million mark two times. On March 12, 2008, the number of registered users in the system exceeded 5 million. Six months later the company achieved a 6 million mark. WebMoney expects its users to increase to 9 millions in the forthcoming year .
8. In late fall WebMoney started issuing virtual VISA payment cards in association with Safepaycard.com under the project cards.webmoney.ru. The new cards differ from the existing Mastercard Payoneer and Star/Plus Banquecard in that Visa Virtual has no embossed plastic format and it is not delivered to your doors via mail service. After you pay for the card the amount of 15-17 WMZ you get its data such as number, CVV code and expire date by mail. Thus, the card can only be used to make payments for purchases via the internet but you cannot use it to withdraw funds through the ATMs.
Along with all the positive updates and introductions WebMoney took some measures that made some customers feel inconvenient with their services. Besides, more and more users had negative experience with using the system for online transactions and expressed their discontent via the Internet. Here is our review of what was wrong with WebMoney during this year.
Something not very good about WebMoney
The first thing to be mentioned is the new policy WebMoney introduced to regulate the exchange transactions. Starting from August 1, 2008 customers are banned to exchange WM notes for the e-currency of a number of other payment systems including these:
Liberty Reserve http://libertyreserve.com/
Imoney UAH http://imoney.com.ua/
The decision was explained as the company’s move to protect itself against the ‘dirty money’ coming from outside. The processor says that those payment service providers included into the list are absolutely anonymous with no identification applied to the users. WebMoney noted that these payment systems became a good place for HYIPs and scammers. Meantime the black list didn’t appear to include the systems, called by WebMoney as legal, like PayPal, Moneybookers, Google CheckOut, ePassporte as well as Russian MoneyMail, RBK Money and YandexMoney.
The systems in the list were marked by WebMoney administration as unpopular and illiquid except Pecunix and LibertyReserve. The company said it will no longer tolerate these providers that have close relations with criminal businesses on the Internet. Besides, WebMoney noted that those payment systems in the list parasitized on WebMoney thus providing their liquidity at the expense of the company.
But these were just flowers while the fruits themselves are much more impressive. One of the former users of WebMoney Nikita Korolev, who owns his information business, shred his opinion and distressing experience with the service. He says:
• WebMoney treat their customers with neglect. Their support service has a number of shortcomings. Customers can settle only general issues over the phone related to registration, attestation and trivial technical questions. Any law issues and arbitration are considered very slowly and only over the e-mail while the administration admits long delays in the correspondence and outrageously boorish speech (a lame humor parody).
• The system blocks accounts without any notification being sent to the users.
• The arbitration of the system implies that any member can leave their complaints against you that will be posted irrespective of the content and adequacy. Even a customer that bought nothing at your store can write that your products are crud. Any positive opinions are posted only after moderation.
• WebMoney allows any person who you do not know to leave his public complaint. Actually any rival can post any false information about your business which will be displayed on the official site of WebMoney.
• WebMoney reserves the right to freeze the accounts of the businesses that sell items “with no use value”. What it implies and includes nobody knows. Yet, the system itself sells certificates that have only formal value within the system and have no legal power.
• WebMoney imposes the whole liability of keeping the funds on the user. If the administration robs you of your money nobody will reimburse you.