TV chef Jamie Oliver is the latest celebrity to lend his name to a payments product, tying his image to charity fundraising through Prizeo.
"When a celebrity provides the call-to-action, fans are keen to explore," says Andrej Pancik, co-founder and CTO of Prizeo. "The payment technology we use is no different than that of a typical online purchase or donation so the user is already comfortable with what we are asking them to do."
Prizeo sells a technology suite that allows celebrities to raise funds for charity through credit card, debit card and PayPal payments. Prizeo keeps 10 percent of the funds as a fee, and it says it expects to lower that figure in the future.
The company operates raffle-like contests in which donors, who are presumably fans of the celebrities, can win experiences with the famous people. For example, donors can win a meal and a cooking lesson from Oliver.
"Most smartphones and tablets can access the site and we are currently developing an app, which will have special features," Pancik says.
Prizeo partners with Worldpay to execute payments. Worldpay has boarded Prizeo on its corporate payments gateway, which allows Prizeo to accept card payments internationally. Prizeo also accepts payments from PayPal accounts. Working with Boku, Prizeo offers mobile billing in the U.K. and plans to expand this option in the U.S. and other markets in the near term.
Prizeo's other celebrity clients include comedian Keith Lemon, singer Frankie Sandford, and boy bands JLS and One Direction.
Prizeo has partnered with WME, a larger international talent agency; and Atom Factory, which manages Lady Gaga, among others. Prizeo is also mining its own partners for prospects.
"In addition to agency partnerships, we have also been tapping into the contact bases or our advisors and investors," Pancik says. "In addition, charities often bring campaigns to us directly."
VeriFone operates a similar fundraising program via a tie-in with Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump's reality show. Contestants on the show use VeriFone's mobile payments technology to ring up sales and accept donations. VeriFone would not comment on other similar campaigns.
Celebrities are more typically associated with prepaid cards, with mixed results. Ironically, music stars such as Justin Bieber and Russell Simmons have had success with prepaid cards, whereas financial expert Suze Orman was taken to task for attaching her name to one.
Digital payments and celebrities can be a good mix, says Jim Wells, president of Wellspring consulting.
"Celebrities are making a reputation pitch and the mobile tech makes it easy to respond," Wells says.
But payment companies risk backlash if they go this route. The infamous Kardashian Kard, issued by University National Bank of St. Paul, Minn., failed within weeks of its launch due to criticism over its pricing structure.
"If a [fundraising app] for a charity is going to hang their hat on a celebrity like the prepaid card folks do, they are also leaving themselves open to the celebrity behavior," Wells says.