If you buy the same Apple iPhone at Amazon (AMZN), Amazon may only receive $98 because it's an internet order. Internet orders are considered higher risk because it's easier to commit fraud when you don't have to physically hand a card to a store employee.
It doesn't stop there, though. Different types of internet businesses have different risk categorization rates. Amazon enjoys one of the most favorable credit card merchant rates of any Internet company. There are two reasons for this. First, Amazon isn't likely to go out of business leaving the credit card merchant processor with a bunch of credit card charges without the corresponding product shipped.
Second, Amazon is primarily selling physical goods and customers are less likely to file a dispute if they have the product they ordered. What's more, likely to have a disputed charge? Poker chips paid with a credit card. That's why most merchant processors won't accept online gambling sites and the ones that do charge much more than 2% to do so. Facebook (FB) takes about a 30% cut from Zynga's Facebook-generated revenue.
High-risk category credit card merchant processors may take 15%, 20%, or more depending on the business. On top of the high merchant fees, many losers will dispute the charges (winners don't), and fraud is a big concern as well. On the other hand, once a person or business receives a bitcoin payment it's theirs and can't be disputed.
Instead of paying Facebook 30% or a merchant account 4%, bitcoin transactions cost only 1% or 2% to convert the payment into cash. Bitcoin opens up the world of online gambling in an exciting way that didn't exist only a few years ago. The payments are as good as cash. If American Express doesn't want to allow gambling charges, it's no problem, just buy bitcoins and in the amount of time it takes for electrons to move from your computer to Zynga, you can have credits in your account.
It's a total game changer (cheesy pun I know) that opens up tremendous opportunities for Zynga. The combination of real money online poker, bitcoin, and Zynga's market dominance moved me from the bear camp to the bull camp.
Just as exciting are the prospects that a Chinese firm may want to partner or outright buy Zynga. I explain in detail in another article so I won't repeat it here, but allow me to point out that China is growing much faster than the U.S. and will overtake the U.S. as the number one mobile market this year.
Understanding the above opportunities that lay waiting at Zynga's feet, it's no surprise the shares tanked when CEO Don Mattrick dismissed online real money gambling as unimportant and claimed China is a challenging market. Can anyone tell me what he was thinking? I don't know.
I do know that if a guy (me) from the north woods of Wisconsin can jump on a jet and go to China and successfully establish business relations in 2003, Zynga can, too. Yes, it's a different culture with different norms, but you figure out the landscape and adjust to your environment. Apple's CEO Tim Cook made the trip. Mattrick should fire whoever convinced him China is too challenging and hire someone with a 'can do" attitude and cultural understanding.
Online poker represents by far the biggest opportunity Zynga has, and bitcoin makes it easy. It's time to expand beyond the U.K. and tap into other markets were legal. Mattrick needs at least to acknowledge to shareholders they're working on it.
The market is barking loudly at Zynga. Is anyone listening?
At the time of publication, the author was long Zynga.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.