For a very long time PayPal has ruled the world of online payments and ecommerce transactions. With the click of few buttons users do away with the need for clunky bank transfers and antiquated check writing hassles.
But, as is to be expected in our capitalistic juggernaut, success breeds competition, and in recent years lots of companies have launched online payment platforms that seek to exploit the cracks and disadvantages in the PayPal system, namely the high fees, review holds on payments that many see as unnecessary and a system that just isn’t supported in every corner of the world.
So what are some of the newer platforms worthy of attention? To begin one of the big boys of the Internet is getting in on the action in a big way. Behemoth Google—which doesn’t always get everything right but which certainly deserves credit for trying—has launched Google Wallet as a PayPal alternative. Wallet allows users to digitally store debit, credit and gift cards; transfer money via email; work from a single card; link the system to all your other Google accounts; and get comprehensive fraud protection. It’s also free aside from transfer charges, but as of now Wallet is only available in the United States.
Skrill, a platform to send and receive money and shop online, utilizes an email identification system, and the recipient can then withdraw the money via a card or from their bank account. Skrill is nice because it allows instant withdrawals, has wide acceptance, low transaction fees for both buyers and merchants and supports a top-level security system.
Another great platform is Dwolla, which works a lot like Skrill but with some advantages. Users can send money to email addresses, but also to LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers. Also—and this is very nice for merchants—Dwolla has a feature known as MassPay, which allows for the processing of thousands of payments at one time. A free service that is incredibly intuitive and easy to use, the platform has very low fees—only 25 cents per transaction and zero if the amount is less than ten dollars. However, Dwolla isn’t widely accepted (yet), transferring money to your bank account takes up to three days and you can’t link the service with credit or debit cards.
Other notable payment systems worth mentioning include Stripe, Selz and Payoneer. The first two are incredibly easy to set up, they both accept a wide variety of payment methods and each works across more than 100 different currencies. And both are ideal for people who sell something through their website, especially bloggers and other web-based professionals. Payoneer, on the other hand, is a great choice for freelancers and marketers who work on a global scale: users have the option of getting money via bank transfers or a reloadable credit card and service is widely accepted. However, with all three of these platforms it’s important to do some research first: because they work globally the fees can be quite high—upwards of six percent—and because some of them are relatively new to the online marketplace security protocols may not be robust yet, so the chances for fraud and abuse should be taken into consideration.