Jo Webber decided something needed to be done after "Smurfs' Village," a mobile game aimed at children ages 6 to 10, charged a number of families hundreds of dollars because kids unknowingly bought in-app purchases.
In response, Webber, a mother herself, created VirtualPiggy.com, a website designed to allow parents to control the money their children can spend online.
"She realized how the world was changing for kids," said Joe Peden, head of business development for Virtual Piggy. "There wasn't a good way for kids to shop online."
Virtual Piggy, a company awarded with the Frost and Sullivan Entrepreneurial Company of the Year, facilitates online accounts where children can manage money in order to purchase things online.
It doesn't actually hold any of the funds, which means the company doesn't need users' personal information, because parents control it.
It works more as an organizing system: showing children how much they have saved and how much more they need to save in order to purchase what is on their wish lists.
Merchants sign up with Virtual Piggy, so children can browse through and make wish lists. Parents control the settings of the account, including what their children can buy and how much money goes into the account.
Parents can choose to be alerted when children want to buy something and the parent can then approve or disapprove it.
"We remove friendly fraud. We empower mom and dad. And we give kids the option to shop online," Peden said.
Peden hopes in five years that Virtual Piggy will expand to a global market.
"Currently, there is no other company in North America like Virtual Piggy. Our goal is to add more merchants, so we can expand to a global market," Peden said.
The company currently has over 80 merchants registered with them, the most recent being Claire's, a jewelry store.
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