Taking one step forward in the march to cash in on the Internet, companies advertising or selling on the Web can contract industry newcomer, CyberGold, to financially reward consumers for interacting with their ads or sites,

volunteering information, completing transactions or fulfilling company requests. The money, usually between fifty cents and a dollar, is deposited into individual consumer CyberGold accounts and eventually transferred to customers' Visa accounts, once the amount is enough to justify the expense of a credit card transaction. Consumers also have the option of using their CyberGold reward money to make Internet purchases or to have the money deposited directly into their bank accounts. "Earning money on-line is critical to closing the Internet loop." says Nat Goldhaber, CyberGold's founder and CEO. "If a consumer can earn money on-line, then he is more likely to spend money on-line."

Berkeley, CA-based CyberGold is an aggregator of micro-transactions, able to manipulate very small amounts of money. "It's for people who want to buy one article or look at one picture," says Goldhaber. "Banks can use the technology to deliver on-line services to the multitudes. We're getting banks to use CyberGold to offer fifty-cent electronic currency rewards for consumers who open on-line banking accounts."

CyberGold Visa deposits are made possible through an agreement with First of Omaha, a subsidiary of First National bank of Omaha, which is the nation's sixth largest credit card processor. But Visa cards issued by any financial institution are eligible. Credits to personal bank card accounts are transferred over traditional private networks.

CyberGold rewards usually are made in small sums. Excite, Inc., the popular free on-line Web guide, for instance, is sponsoring a CyberGold banner on its home page that rewards consumers with fifty cents for opening on-line banking accounts. But the rewards can go much higher. One CyberGold client, the Internet service provider Home in California, pays consumers $100 when it receives a successful lead for a new business customer.

-peterson tfn.com

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