I recently saw news on Ryanair that was a good payments example of putting some power back into the hands of the merchant. They are dropping the fee free status currently held exclusively by Visa Electron:

Under a new arrangement passengers must now use MasterCard Prepaid if they wish to escape the costly surcharge, which adds £40 to a return trip for a family of four.

No doubt Mastercard is paying for the privilege, and maybe even Visa were paying before them. I’d never thought about it until I saw this, but I’ve seen numerous new payments methods trying to get off the ground, but user apathy really makes getting adoption difficult. Giving a large chunk of the advertising budget to a large merchant in exchange for making your payment method the only one without a payment type surcharge is a brilliant idea, whilst at the same time being a potential winner for the airline. The airline needs to be very careful that a competitor is not offering a different (more widely held) form of payment as fee free, especially if it is one that passengers prefer or is easier to sign up for, but on the whole it is a very interesting idea, and potentially a nice new source of revenue for airlines with a dominant market position.

If you don’t like that idea for trying to make a bit of extra airline revenue, then you could instead follow Mango, the South African LCC. They’ve just announced lending their brand for a pre-paid non inflight internet service. It appears you can actually purchase the service during the flight booking flow on the website and pay one amount at the end. Another idea I wouldn’t have thought of – let’s just hope it doesn’t distract users from actually completing the purchase of the flight.

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