Digital cash Web sites

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

A number of companies popping up on the Internet offering new kinds of electronic currency.

Here's a small sampling:

Virtual credit card

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FirstNet Financial currently offers online credit accounts to people with less than perfect credit for a $9.95 application fee. This fall it plans to offer a no-fee accounts to the general public. Since March, 3,000 customers and 70 merchants have signed up (www.firstnetcard.com).

Electronic-organizer credit card

This fall Confinity Inc. plans to offer PayPal, free software that turns electronic organizers into on-demand payment devices. Customers will be able to use the devices to pay anyone, even their best friend, via credit card. First available for the Palm Pilot machines, the software will eventually target cell phones and pagers as well. (www.PayPal.com).

Kids' money

At least three online payment services have sprung up since March that let children shop the Web without a credit card. Parents retain control of where their children shop and how much they spend. The services also encourage children to save money and donate to charitable causes. The original service, iCanBuy.com (www.icanbuy.com) launched in March; doughNet Inc. (www.doughnet.com) and RocketCash Corporation (www.rocketcash.com) launched in June.

Artificial currencies

Earlier this year, several Internet-only denominations have sprung up, such as ClickRewards (www.netcentives.com), beenz (www.beenz.com), and flooz (www.flooz.com). Consumers who surf particular Web sites or patronize specific online stores earn frequent-flier miles or other types of artificial currencies, which they can redeem for merchandise or services.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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