By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
For years, as soon as people got over their initial anxiety, computer users have been buying items on the web with their credit cards.
Those who want an easier way or are concerned about safety can also use PayPal, which has become more and more popular in the last few years.
Now, however, a Brooklyn firm, based on Atlantic Avenue in Crown Heights, has introduced “Kurrenci,” a type of Internet-only money that would be honored by a select number of merchants.
The company started last October, said Mosheh Poltorak, vice president of marketing and development at the firm.
“We came to this idea looking at the internet economy,” he told the Eagle. “We wanted to know how customers are shopping. It was fairly evident that the coupon and discounting business was a mess online.”
The new “Kurrenci,” he said, is designed not only for purchasing, but for donations to charity and for use in gaming as well. You can purchase the units at the Kurrenci.com website or, in some cases, accrue them through browsing.
Merchants are able to set their own exchange rate, adds Poltorak. For example, you might be able to buy a $1 Kurrenci unit, but the merchant could decide he will honor it for $1.25. In this way, the exchange is often beneficial to the user.
Asked about the merchants who accept Kurrenci online, Poltorak admitted it was not a huge number. However, Dov Charney, CEO of the well-known American Apparel chain, has signed up his online retail site as the 50th merchant to accept Kurrenci.
“We began a soft launch in the summer when we opened the site, testing it with college students,” said Poltorak. “Now, we plan to start marketing more.”
Currently, because of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the company is encouraging online donations to a group of New York City-based charities, two of which – Red Hook Initiative and Brooklyn Recovery Foundation – are Brooklyn-based.
In addition, Kurrenci is offering 1000 Kurrencis (worth at least $1,000) to any individual that refers an online retail merchant that later signs up to accept Kurrenci.
The founder and CEO of the company is Nathan Hecht, who has also founded a semiconductor fabricator and a solar-energy firm. He is also the managing partner of Fleet Street Capital, an investment firm.