PointsPay is a new technology aiming to help consumers redeem virtual currencies (miles and points) as a regular currency through its patented mobile e-wallet technology. At this time it is the most global and widely recognized mobile e-wallet and Hofer says they are confident the technology is solid as some extremely large Internet companies are attempting to copy them. As they are the technology developer and provided, LoyLogic says that what this technology can do is the most exciting.
PointsPay is similar to PayPal as consumers will register a user ID at PointsPay and load their mobile e-wallet (available via iTunes) so they can use it online or via a prepaid Visa or MasterCard that users can request once they register at PointsPay. The major difference between PayPal and PointsPay is how you fund your account. Whereas PayPal is funded via your bank account or a linked credit card, PointsPay is funded by your loyalty program points or miles. There is an option to use a site like Points.com to convert your miles into cash in your Paypal account but once the transaction is done there is no going back. That is where PointsPay also differs from Paypal in that all points and miles accompany a member in a ‘cloud‘ like setting and you can load/unload your PointsPay account as you wish. So if there is an unused amount of currency in your PointsPay account it is pushed back to your loyalty program account at the same exchange rate seen when you ‘bought‘ the currency with your points or miles.
Hofer admits that the PointsPay option may not the be the best use of points but it does provide liquidity and flexibility of points or miles. Ultimately it will depend on the loyalty program as to how ‘worthwhile’ they make the PointsPay option since it is the program that sets the redemption ratio not PointsPay. For example, with Etihad Guest it costs 16,069 Guest Miles to load your PointsPay account with US$100. Those same 16,069 Miles can get you an AED500 Etihad Holidays Voucher that is worth roughly US$136. So it will come down to each users preferences as to how they want to use their miles. One good avenue for PointsPay is that if you have miles that are expiring soon and know you will not use them you might as well get something for them by loading up your PointsPay account.
Currently PointsPay has only one loyalty partner, Etihad Guest. The two partnered up earlier in the year to launch PointsPay and now that the technology is stable and established with Etihad Guest, you should see other programs launching the feature soon. A major U.S. travel loyalty program is apparently in the works and there has been interest from a Canadian loyalty company (I'm not sure which as it is most likely not Air Miles since they launched their own Air Miles ‘Cash’ feature earlier this year and when I asked Aeroplan, it wasn't on their radar) as well as others around the globe. Hofer stated their sales effort needs to be ramped up to garner more partners to make PointsPay a success and that should happen now that there has been a complete integration with Etihad Guest.
To celebrate the successful launch of PointsPay they are running a contest where you can win 50,000 or 10,000 Etihad Guest Miles by telling them what crazy, fun, exciting and surprising way you found to redeem your points via PointsPay. The link to the contest is: http://www.pointspay.com/index.php/component/content/article?id=36