Last week I needed to send some money I owed to an acquaintance. I could have opted for safe and reliable snail mail – but that would have been too slow. I could have paid over the phone, but I’m always worried my credit card number may get into the wrong hands and/or not erased after it has been written down.
So, I elected to send it electronically. They received the payment immediately and all I needed was their email address.
There are many online services that allow you to send and receive money electronically. Probably the most popular can be found at PayPal.com. Established in 2000, PayPal is owned by eBay.com and last year had revenues of over $4 billion.
Other popular electronic payment options include:
Dwolla (very affordable solution)
Bank to bank transfers (ACH)
and a few more if you do a web search . . . .
How to Send and Receive Payments via PayPal
Since PayPal is one of the most trusted and widely used methods of sending and receiving money electronically, let’s discuss how to get started using their service.
Let’s say that you want to transfer $50 to your friend who lives in California.
As long as you have an account, you can easily send the money, free of charge. All you will need to do is to setup an account with PayPal. Once you sign-up with an account you can transfer the money free of charge so long as you have a linked bank account or have existing funds in you PayPal account. Otherwise, you will have to choose who pays a 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee when using a debit/credit card as the sender.
When you are all signed up, all you need to do is to enter the person’s email address you wish to transfer funds to – and they will get a notice and link to retrieve their funds.
Once your friend in California has set-up a PayPal account, they’ll be able to accept the payment and then transfer the funds to their banking account or use the funds to pay for things online or even at some offline stores.
PayPal also offers users the options of collecting credit cards via their PayPal Here assessory that plugs into your cellphone’s headphone jack. You can use it to swipe customer’s (or friends’) credit or debit cards to accept payments for money owed or for goods and services. There is a small charge for this service.
Square is another service that acts in much the same way that PayPal Here does and is widely used by merchants for electronic payment.
Bank to Bank Electronic Transfers
I’m sure many of us have direct deposits set up for our paychecks. Most employers use the Automated Clearing House (more commonly known as the ACH) to accomplish these transfers. For the transactions to work, the receiver must provide authorization for the electronic transfer to take place.
While the ACH might not be as easy as PayPal – you still may be able to transfer money directly from your bank account to another bank account provided that you have the receiver’s account number and routing number. Many banks give you the option of paying a bill when you are logged in to your account.
Since most banks organize their websites in a variety of ways, you will need to check with your institution to see how you might be able to send money to another party. The transaction will likely be free if you are transferring from one bank account to another within the same institution.
Many procedures have been instituted to ensure customers’ identity and personal information remains safe while making financial transactions online. Just be sure to follow your instincts and common sense before you send money electronically and always be sure the site you are using to transfer money at is secure.
If you’re looking for a low cost, no-card-required solution, try Dwolla. Their fees are much lower than PayPal, and they offer a very similar product.