One of our stellar developers, Brian Robinson, is working on putting a payment service into Ringside Networks. When we release at the end of June, this should hopefully make it very easy for any application to embed a social payment service. It is still early, but you can see a demo at http://wiki.ringsidenetworks.org/display/ringside/Payment+Services.
Like many of the things we are doing at Ringside Networks, this is new stuff. To help people understand what a social payment service might enable, I will make up an example.
Let’s say the Wall Street Journal has a social payment service. In addition to letting me subscribe for a year of on-line access for $99, it also offers me a $199 option to subscribe myself and 5 co-workers. Makes sense from a business perspective for WSJ, since they will get additional revenue right now and additional eyeballs for their ads.
Here is how it could work. Let’s say I go to WSJ.com and sign up for this service. The first question the website would ask is what social networks I belong to. Since the Ringside Social Application Server works with both Facebook and Open Social, I could see a list of my friends in Facebook as well as Open Social networks like LinkedIn if I gave the WSJ my username and password to those social networks. I would simply pick my 5 friends from across my existing social networks. WSJ.com could then send each a message thru Ringside into their social network with a subscription notice. When those users logged into WSJ.com, they could be registered and the WSJ.com social graph would start to get built on the WSJ.com’s own instance of the Ringside Social Application Server.
You can start to think of extensions to this in so many ways. For example, since I’ve subscribed to WSJ.com for a while, they probably know something about me, but nothing about my friends. They probably target ads to me, and they could have their ad server make simple social calls to the Ringside Social Application Server to find out what ads should be served to my colleagues. Another example would be they offer my colleagues a further discounted rate if they extend their subscription to several other colleagues. Build the social graph out a bit more and this becomes incredibly powerful.
Let us know your use cases for a social payment service!