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Spending spare change on the 'Net
The number of people who spent $2 or less online doubled in the last year, a new survey finds.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - More and more Americans are turning to the Internet to cash in their small change, according to a new survey.

The number of people willing to make payments of $2 or less over the Internet nearly doubled to about 20 million last year, according to a survey from Peppercoin, which makes software that enables small payments online, and market research firm Ipsos Insight.

What does $2 get you on the Internet these days? One extremely popular area is digital content, such as a la carte music. Tracks on the iTunes music store, for example, can be purchased for 99 cents each.

"Think of it as the old roll of quarters going into an arcade," Mark Friedman, the president of Peppercoin, told the New York Times, adding that one hot area for small transactions is prepaid accounts that let parents control how much their child spends. "They put in a certain amount, and the child can go ahead and consume, and when they're done, they're done."

The survey found that nearly 20 million Americans ages 12 and up have purchased something online for less than $2 in the past year, almost a 29 percent increase from September 2004 and a 350 percent increase from October 2003.

Americans' willingness to use credit and debit cards for small purchases extents beyond the Internet. The survey found that respondents are interested in using their credit and debit cards for other small purchases, such as coffee and beverages, parking, fast food items and at vending machines or kiosks.

"Merchants, retailers and card issuers alike could benefit from increased consumer access to this type of transaction, as consumers appear to be increasingly willing to use credit or debit cards in small payment purchases for a variety of items," said Matt Kleinschmit, a vice president at Ipsos Insight, in a statement.

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