Beyond the credit card: An interview with Rixty

I like Coinstar. I like to play games. So, once Rixty announced their partnership with Coinstar to turn spare change into game credits, I had to talk to them. Rixty sat down with Gamezebo to fill us in on what they are all about, how they are making games accessible to people without credit cards, and what plans they have on the horizon.

Share this
  • Share this on Facebook
  • Share this on Twitter

I like Coinstar. I like to play games. So, once Rixty announced their partnership with Coinstar to turn spare change into game credits, I had to talk to them. Rixty sat down with Gamezebo to fill us in on what they are all about, how they are making games accessible to people without credit cards, and what plans they have on the horizon.

In March of 2009, you announced a partnership with Coinstar. Can you share with our users how that partnership works? Since you have started to work with Coinstar, how many pennies have been turned into Rixty codes?

Through our relationship with Coinstar, Rixty users can use their coins and dollar bills to pay for virtual goods and upgrades in upwards of 1000 online games. The process is pretty simple, actually. First, users go to the Rixty website to search for a nearby participating Coinstar Center. Next, they head to the store and select the Rixty eCertificate or certificate option on the Coinstar Center. Once the coins are counted, they receive a printed receipt with a RixtyCode. Finally, they can use the RixtyCode for their favorite supported game and select the Rixty payment option to buy virtual goods. The nice thing about Rixty is that the coin counting is free, so if you have $17.57 in coins, you get a code worth that full amount. Also many of the Coinstar Centers take bills, so once you run out of coins, you can always purchase using ten or twenty dollar bills instead.

We don’t publically disclose our transaction volume, but I can say that it’s been doubling every few months on average. Millions of pennies have been saved from obsolesce and instead used to power great online games.

You initially launched as a games company but then changed your business model to be an alternative payment company. Why and how did you make this transition? What are the similarities and differences between designing games and developing an alternative payment system?

My co-founder, Don Ferguson, and I both worked at Doppelganger creating a teen-focused virtual world before starting Rixty. While there, we saw firsthand how users would get deeply involved in the world and wanted to engage with their entertainment dollars, but a majority didn’t have credit cards so they didn’t have a way to pay. We founded Rixty to solve that problem for youth and adults alike.

A payment system like Rixty is all about ease of use and keeping things simple. No one wants to spend all day on a payment site; it’s a means to get to the great games we support. As a result, we keep the focus on the user experience and make our system fast and easy to use.

Aside from kids who are too young to get a credit card or adults who can’t get a credit card, what other audience(s) does Rixty appeal to?

Pretty much everyone has coins and since there is no coin counting fee at Coinstar when you put the value of your change onto a Rixty certificate, it’s a great way to use those coins for something fun. In addition to Coinstar Centers, around 10,000 stores carry our prepaid cards or can print out RixtyCodes at the cash register (we call these Cashier Top-Up Locations since there isn’t an actual card on the shelf).

Some of our users tell us that even though they have a credit card, they use Rixty because it’s safer than using their card online and it helps them budget their online entertainment spending, using only the cash they actually have on hand. Other users like the fact that we don’t collect any personal information from kids under the age of 13 and for adults we only collect an email address, so they can spend online without revealing their personal information.

What plans do you have to expand globally? What are the most interesting global markets for Rixty and online games?

We currently are focused on serving the US market, but there are many other markets where the need for an easy to use cash-based payment system is growing. We are looking carefully at Asia as well as Europe and South America, but the timing of our expansion hasn’t been finalized.

If Rixty is free to the consumer, how does Rixty make money? How many transactions do you do in an average day?

Rixty’s business model is just like that of a credit card – the store owner (or in our case, the online game publisher) pays Rixty a percentage of the transaction value. Unlike credit cards, however, Rixty doesn’t charge a per-transaction fixed fee and thus we can economically support micro-transactions down to $0.10 or even lower. We don’t publically state our transaction volume, but let’s just say that there are billions of dollars in idle coins in the US today and online games are growing at a fantastic rate… so we keep plenty busy!

You can play hundreds of online games and redeem Rixty codes for micro-transactions, subscriptions, and one-time purchases. Can you give us insight into what users are redeeming their Rixty codes for?

Rixty supports a wide variety of games and we are always updating our site with new offerings. We do, however, see big differences in spending between social/casual games and major MMOs like those published by Perfect World and others. The social game player purchases in smaller amounts over time, while the MMO player is highly engaged and makes larger purchases to help their character progress through the game. Both players love the coin aspect of Rixty while the MMO players in particular using dollar bills to purchase practically any amount on the kiosk or via our prepaid cards. Plus our inventory of codes is virtual, so they always know they will be in stock.

The 800-pound gorilla in this space is Facebook. How has Rixty been impacted by the introduction of Facebook Credits? How much of Rixty codes are being redeemed directly to play games through Facebook Credits?

Facebook has created an amazing platform for social gaming and we are happy to be working with them, helping users buy Facebook Credits via Coinstar Centers and our prepaid cards. Everyday more games accept credits and more gamers are adopting credits as their preferred way to pay for games on Facebook. We can’t share specifics, but we’ve seen strong growth in our Facebook Credits numbers and we only see that trend continuing into the future.

A year ago, if you have told me that I would be able to turn my spare change into game credits through Rixty, I would not have believed it. In the future, what other crazy things do you predict we’ll be doing with Rixty credits and micro-transactions?

When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time down at the local arcade feeding the machines with quarters. Today, the internet is the new arcade and Rixty is really the only way to pay using coins and cash. We are very focused on powering payments for online games today. That being said, the new arcade goes well beyond games into streaming music & video, written content, and mobile games and services. Microtransactions are here to stay, so expect Rixty to show up in some interesting places in the future!