Based on its recent analysis of the online digital media market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Virtual Piggy with the 2012 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for Entrepreneurial Company of the Year. In the dynamic online retail marketplace, only Virtual Piggy offers a parent-controlled, safe and secure transactional environment for children.
The federal government passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA in 1998 in response to increasingly younger demographics accessing and transacting on the Web. It mandates that Websites aimed at underage children must get parental consent before gathering information about users under 13 years. Since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has brought suit against several companies in high profile cases, it is in the interest of online retailers to be COPPA compliant. Yet doing so has been challenge in terms of identifying underage shoppers and controlling how they spend on the sites.
"Until recently, online retail facilitators had to rely on solutions that enable some level of parental or credit card monitoring, but nothing that provided both parents and children a secure, controlled environment that was COPPA compliant," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Loren Johnson. "Enter Virtual Piggy in 2012 with a unique solution for parents that want to empower their children with some degree of autonomy and responsibility on online retail sites, while retaining executive veto power over purchases."
At its core, Virtual Piggy facilitates online spending for under 18’s and young adults (without credit cards) in a parent-approved manner, while providing a COPPA compliant system for merchants to transact with children under 13. Armed with a set allowance, children can visit Virtual Piggy partner retail sites and make purchasing decisions on their own. Parents are then notified of the purchase intentions (including information like the website, product and price) and are given the ability to approve or disapprove the purchases prior to processing a payment.
"Only parents can set up Virtual Piggy accounts so children themselves are not marketed to and do not have to provide any personal information, nor are there any systems through which such information can be inadvertently disclosed," observed Johnson. "Further, Virtual Piggy partner merchants are carefully selected based on their offering only child-friendly products."
Unlike most start up software companies that rush to get online and rush to get-to-market, beta testing live software online, because of the delicate nature of the Virtual Piggy target market, it adopted a strategy of ensuring that all of its potential operational and regulatory compliance issues were fully operational prior to going live. As a result, Virtual Piggy has attracted market attention, partnerships, and the interest of parental, privacy and children’s protective groups, including notably, recognition for its compliance with the COPPA legislation and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) Level 1.
Today, Virtual Piggy is poised for strong market growth as awareness of its unique value proposition and the best-practices quality of its solutions increases across a wider online retailer market. Further, as parents and privacy advocates see Virtual Piggy in action, they will ask their favorite online retailers for it by name, gathering converts, loyalty, and strong branding.
"Online retail is not only selling the right products but attracting and retaining consumers and maximizing engagement with consumers," added Johnson. "Virtual Piggy has gained admirable traction with all its target groups – merchants, parents and children as well as credit card and payment processing companies. Though only deployed this year, viral marketing among key constituencies has been a strong market driver for the company."
For its ability to serve and advance eCommerce and the secure online transactions market, Virtual Piggy is the worthy recipient of the 2012 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for Entrepreneurial Company of the Year in the online digital media market. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has demonstrated Entrepreneur Spirit by devising a strong growth strategy and robustly implementing it. The recipient has shown strength in terms of innovation in products/technologies, leadership in customer value and speedy response to market needs.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.
About Virtual Piggy
Virtual Piggy, Inc. (virtualpiggy.com) is the first e-commerce solution that enables kids to manage and spend money within a parent-controlled environment. The technology company delivers online security platforms designed for the Under 21 age group in the global online market, and also enables online businesses the ability to function in a manner consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA") and similar international children’s privacy laws. Virtual Piggy enables the Under 21 audience to play, transact and socialize in a secure online environment guided by parental permission, oversight and control. The company is based in Hermosa Beach, CA.
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