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NextCard rates e-commerce sites, spending habits

The Internet credit-card company will release a new index based on transactions made by its 100,000 cardholders, offering some of the first hard data about how consumers spend money online.

Offering some of the first statistics on how consumers spend online, NextCard today released a new index based on the monthly transactions of about 100,000 NextCard Internet Visa cardholders.

The release of Internet credit card issuer NextCard's Index comes just as online measurement firm Media Metrix said today that it would partner with BizRate to provide more comprehensive data on online shoppers--facts and figures that Internet merchants are demanding to help them better target consumers.

The NextCard Index is based on the number of actual online purchases, rather than page views or site visits, and will be published regularly at the site, as well as by The Industry Standard and Yahoo Internet Life.

"NextCard cardholders represent the most Internet-savvy, active online shoppers," said NextCard's chief marketing officer Dan Springer in a statement. "Therefore, we developed the NextCard eCommerce Index to provide accurate and reliable information about where consumers actually purchase on the Internet."

Credit cards, accounting for more than 90 percent of all transactions on the Internet, are the preferred payment choice for the $30 billion e-commerce marketplace, according to NextCard. The company said it is in uniquely positioned to compile the index because its Visa customers are Internet-savvy consumers who actively shop online.

The index will identify the top 25 online merchants, as well as which companies have moved up or down in its top 10 e-commerce movers list.

"With the holiday e-commerce season quickly approaching, the index will also serve as an important barometer of online merchant success," said Springer.

NextCard said its index combines two components to accurately reflect online transaction activity. First, its cardholder base that reflects the demographic profile of online purchasers. And secondly, it uses data-mining technology that tracks card transactions online.

As some of the most sophisticated online consumers, NextCard customers make online purchases approximately five times more often than the average online credit card user, the company said. As a result, the NextCard said its index not only provides valuable information about where online consumers are actually buying, but it also reflects the ability of merchants to convert Web visitors to buyers, and buyers to repeat customers.

In July, America Online and held the No. 1 and No. 2 spots for most transactions online. was No.6, and eBay was No. 9.

"NextCard's unique ability to identify online transactions, coupled with their significant cardholder base, makes the NextCard eCommerce Index a valuable yardstick in understanding the dynamic electronic commerce marketplace," said Allen Weiner, vice president of analytical services at Nielsen/NetRatings.