Oink CEO Jo Webber Talks Ubisoft Partnership and the Future Parental Controls in a Digital World

Being a parent is a difficult job, and trying to raise a little gamer can be all the more stressful due to the ease of access the digital age has brought about. But, thanks to a new partnership between the digital online banking system Oink and a number of major gaming publishers, parents will have a new and easy to use service that can help them understand and monitor their child’s spending habits.

Taking a moment to speak with PSLS’ Senior Editor, Dan Oravasaari, Oink CEO and Founder Jo Webber discusses how the service will work, what steps are being taken to improve the parental features and even exclusive content for users.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your online banking service, Oink. Can you tell us a bit about the service and what it is designed to do?

Oink is designed to allow kids and teens to safely engage with games and retail brands online, within full control of the parents – while also allowing COPPA-compliant engagement for the games and brands they’re interacting with. When you have an activity or engagement with a younger consumer, there are really three parties involved instead of the usual two because you need the parent to be across what is happening and to provide approval. Our service is the first one to manage that situation as it exists rather than treating it as only a two party situation.

Could you explain some of the parental restrictions parents will be able to emplace on their child’s purchasing power? Will you be able to restrict M-Rated games or R-Rated movies from being purchased from a specific retailer?

Parents will have full visibility into what titles their dependent are purchasing and playing, this includes being able to set limits of not only a monetary nature, but also on a ratings level. You can restrict by title, publisher, or at a ratings level, both under ESRB and PEGI. The company, working with us to complete the sale, flows the ratings data to us during the approval process, which we check against the parental settings.

Oink Parental

Looking through a few of the current retailers that are partnered with Oink, I see that some of the transactions are handled through purchasing gift-cards for use on the sellers site such as GameStop. From that point, will parents still able to track or monitor the specific items that their child purchased? And will those gift-cards work for purchases at physical retail stores?

Gift card situations are a little different, while parents can see gift card balances as they are purchased and used they can no longer see specific items. This is one of the reasons why we’ve been working with our partners to transition out of gift cards to direct integration as soon as possible because we want parents to have that visibility throughout the whole process. For most cards they can work at the gift store, assuming they have digital redemption in store.  Here’s some news: Oink will also have it’s own option for in-store shopping this summer that will give parents full visibility across all in-store purchases.

You recently announced a partnership with a number of gaming companies, most notably Ubisoft. Are you currently talking to any other publishers, such as Sony or Microsoft about including Oink into their online service?

We want to be everywhere our consumers want to play, so with that goal in mind, we are busy speaking with all the major publishers, console providers, and game developers that cater to our markets.  While we can’t yet name specifics, you can imagine the nice list!

Oink Child

It was mentioned that Oink will be announcing game specific deals later this year (Q3 and Q4), could you elaborate more on that?

We work with all of our partners to come up with specific offers that are tailored to both of our audiences. As we announce new partners you will see new deals with each of them exclusively that range from free in-game items and discounts to exclusive offers for Oink users.

Microtransactions have been a growing part of the gaming market over the last few years, does the Oink infrastructure work with in-app purchases? Or does do all transactions have to go through a web page or gift-card purchase?

Oink can facilitate in-app purchases.  And — here’s some more news — we hope to have our first example of that before the end of this year.

What inspired to you create a service based around digital banking accounts for teens? Could you explain to us the origin story of Oink?

Oink was started when our founders were going through the issues of online engagement and purchasing with their growing families. There was no service on the market that gave independence to youth without a complete loss of control. Children and teens are the most digitally engaged group of people on the planet. We are one of the first services to recognize that in respect to how their commerce.

With the growing reach of young adults and gamers around the world, do you think services like these will become a standard? Would you sign your children up for Oink? Let us know in the comments, or take to our forums to discuss the trials and tribulations of raising your own gamer.