Paypal may be one of the most commonly known money-transfer services but it's not the only one. We've rounded up 9 alternatives that might suit your needs better.
Popmoney doesn't let you send money through its site at all - you can use it to send money only if your bank supports the service. For payments from someone who wants to use that service through their bank, you set up a Popmoney account.
Pros: Account setup on PopMoney site is free, as is receiving money. Some 175 banks offer free accounts to customers.
Cons: Accounts created on PopMoney's website cannot send payments; only accounts with a bank that supports PopMoney can do so. To create an account, you must go through a verification process that involves providing a lot of personal information.
Since our bank doesn't offer ZashPay, we set up an account for the service online, which took a few days - including waiting for the small verification deposits to appear in the bank account. All we had to do to make a payment was provide the recipient's e-mail address and the amount we wished to send. When we received a payment, the service notified us via email (you'll get a text message if you set up your mobile phone). Turnaround time was one to two days.
Pros: ZashPay lets you send money via email or text message. There's no third-party account to fund (as there is with PayPal, for example); instead, money transfers directly between bank accounts. Account setup on the ZashPay site is free, as is receiving money. Payments of up to $500 (£320) cost only 75 cents (47p) per payment to send.
Cons: Creating an account involves a verification process that requires you to supply lots of personal information. ZashPay doesn't yet have as many banks on board as PopMoney - about 70 as of early October.
Other personal payment services are AlertPay and Obopay (although this currently only works in the US), which work on the same basic model as PayPal: You must set up and fund an account that makes and receives payments. Obopay offers strong support for mobile devices. AlertPay serves some people that PayPal does not, accepting additional funding sources such as money orders, and letting you send money to more than 190 countries.
Will people stop carrying lots of cash and use these services instead? In order for that to happen, says Jim Bruene, who tracks online finance in his NetBanker blog, making payments has to become as easy as pulling out a £20 note.
Such convenience may not be possible until cell phones with built-in near-field communications (NFC) technology for contact-free payments (payments you make by tapping the phone on a payment terminal or another phone) become ubiquitous in North America, Breune adds.
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