5 Questions on Holiday Spending: eBillme’s Samer Forzley

For this year’s Briefing Room on Holiday Shopping, PYMNTS.com asked eBillme’s Vice President of Marketing, Samer Forzley, to offer his holiday shopping predections and to share what’s next for eBillme. The video of this interview is below.

1) The shopping season has officially begun, and everyone has a holiday shopping spending prediction. What’s yours based on your own data and observations?

My observation is based on the online spending index we conduct every quarter with Javelin Research. The index data has tracked projected spending online for the last six quarters. The data is showing that spend will be up this quarter compared to Q3 of this year, but 18% lower than Q4 last year. We expect people to buy the same amount of items but at a lower value.

2) How are people paying for the things that they buy this year? Is this season of cash, check, credit or debit? Online is it PayPal, BillMeLater, eBillMe, or something else?

I think people are looking for options, it is wrong to paint consumers with one brush. Some consumers prefer to pay with credit and will look for credit options. Some consumers prefer cash and will look for cash options. The data however points to a shift to cash for a few reasons.


  1. Consumer sentiment has shifted and in general people want to save and manage their money and live debt free.

  3. Credit has been tightened by the banks and people often find them selves unable to spend with credit.

  5. Many consumers are close to their credit limits and cannot use their credit instruments any more.

  7. In the future the credit card bill will exclude many new customer from shopping online, especially those under 21.


3) How is this different from what you saw two years ago before the economy tanked? Is it different than last year’s dark Christmas?

Time will tell, last year there was a shock about what is happening in the market, this year there is realization of what happened. Unemployment rates are still high, and cash flow is tight for many. This year will be in line with last year.

4) From where you sit in the ecosystem, how does the consumers choice of payment type impact your business? What are you doing to offset what might be the double whammy of reduced consumer spending, the credit crunch, and the reduced revenue coming from their choice of payment type?

We believe that there is significant opportunities for secure cash payments, and we believe that online retailers that adopt secure cash payments will benefit greatly and capture customers that otherwise would not have checked out. We have enabled different ways for consumers to pay with cash. eBillme orders can be paid via online banking, Walkin networks (over 75,000 locations) or even via our Teen Payment choice where customers can get their order paid but a parent or guardian.

5) It’s still early, but how would you describe this season’s holiday shopping sentiment?
A) A holiday classic B) Full of hope, just like Tiny Tim C) The Grinch stole it

I think this season’s holiday shopping sentiment is cautiously optimistic.

Bonus question: In general, what do you think will the next big thing in payments in 2010, i.e. what’s next?

Cash and Mobile. In 2010 cash will continue to grow as a payment choice for consumers. Mobile payment solutions will start to take hold



Samer Forzley (Vice President, Marketing at eBillme) develops and manages marketing strategies and programs dedicated to customer and merchant acquisition. Prior to joining eBillme, Samer held senior eBusiness development and strategy positions with Alcatel, Primus, and Allstream. Samer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Math in Computer Mathematics from Carleton University, he also holds a Master’s of Business Administration Degree from the University of Ottawa.

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