Reputable online payments suggestions?
March 3, 2004 3:55 AM   Subscribe

Now that Paypal doesn't require people making payments to actually be a member, and allows merchants to configure their payment pages, I'm considering using it for a Web project. Yet, at the same time, I'm aware that a lot of people consider it to be Bad and Wrong.

Who would you lot recommend for reputable online payments? I'm in the UK and have a teeny tiny budget, but I'm doing this for a large organisation.
posted by bwerdmuller to Work & Money (11 answers total)
I don't know anyone with a better reputation than Paypal for online payments. They have their detractors, but I've used them for years and have never had any trouble.

I could name a couple of worldwide megacorporations with the word "bank" in their names that have given me far more trouble than Paypal ever has...

Beyond that, they're nearly a de facto standard. I feel far safer buying a product or service from a small-time web merchant with Paypal than giving them my actual credit card number.
posted by mmoncur at 4:32 AM on March 3, 2004

Just as a side note, they don't need to be a member to send them a bill, but PayPal does require people to sign up to send you money.

I just tried to send myself a bill and the website states: "This recipient is not yet registered. PayPal will send an email to the recipient explaining how to open an account and receive your transaction. "

That being said, I still think that PayPal is great. I have a merchant account, but nobody's ever sent me any money other than eBay for that auction I reported as fraud.
posted by ajpresto at 4:42 AM on March 3, 2004

i don't know how much it means to you, but, for what it's worth, i've used paypal tens of times and NEVER been screwed by them. i use them all the time with ebay (in fact, I won't even bother to bid on an auction unless i can pay with paypal [which is now, as i understand it, owned by ebay or something, but whatever])

there *was* one incident where i was ripped off by someone through an online transaction (and had sent money to them through paypal) and they were either unwilling or unable (mostly the latter) to help -- but i don't really hold that against them at all. They've been a very useful service, in my experience.

i agree with mmoncur; if it's going to a smaller merchant, and it goes through paypal, i feel pretty good about it.

i really can't think of any payment system I'd be happier with. Still, I don't particularly object to payment systems that are built into the merchant's backend. actually, sometimes i find these more convenient, because when you're paying with paypal -- outside of ebay -- often, the integration is not what i'd like it to be: ie, there's not a lot of confirmation of what you're buying, etc. I like having a direct receipt from a merchant's website than getting some confirmation from paypal that I gave them X cash for something. That said, if you NEED to use an outside payment system, PayPal is definitely the one I trust most.

How they are in the UK may be another matter -- hopefully someone can comment (i remember paypal not always supporting overseas payments as "trusted" and therefore insured transactions.)
posted by fishfucker at 4:45 AM on March 3, 2004

With regard to the UK, PayPal always used to be a problem because it required UK users to register as foreigners, which incurred an additional time delay as cards were verified.

Now that PayPal has officially launched a UK wing, I believe this problem is solved. A similar UK payment company, however, is Nochex - which doesn't have such an arduous signup process.

I have used PayPal hundreds of times; however, I am well aware of the complaints made by people who have found PayPal suddenly freeze their accounts, effectively snatching hundreds of dollars from them. The answer to this is not to treat PayPal as a bank, but as a middleman. As soon as you have a decent amount of money in your PayPal account, take it out. This puts the money out of their reach.
posted by skylar at 4:54 AM on March 3, 2004

I've used Paypal to move thousands of dollars spread over several hundred transactions. I've had zero problems. The fees seem a bit steep sometimes, but you can work that into the price you charge.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:08 AM on March 3, 2004

Response by poster: Just a note: I was wrong about Paypal not requiring membership in the UK. Currently that's in the US only, which sort of scuppers my evil plans. Ho hum.
posted by bwerdmuller at 5:29 AM on March 3, 2004

I'm another paypal member (in the USA). I've heard some isolated reports of paypal freezing member accounts for no good reason, and I always keep my balance pretty low just in case, but I've never had a problem with them.

In terms of fees, they may well be a better deal than any merchant-account credit-card clearing system you'll be able to find as a small business. As I understand it, conventional merchant accounts can also be pretty restrictive about allowing online transactions.
posted by adamrice at 6:51 AM on March 3, 2004

I use Paypal every single day and send/receive money worldwide. Never had a problem with them.
posted by dobbs at 9:58 AM on March 3, 2004

<counterpoint>If you're doing it for a large organization, consider getting a real merchant account and handling the transactions through someone like; hooking a simple shopping cart into their AIM system is not very difficult, and it looks a hell of a lot more professional than a PayPal link.

PayPal's fine for individuals, but personally I wouldn't trust any business that can't manage anything more complicated than slapping a paypal link on their site.

I don't know exactly what it costs, but it can't be too much: a teeny-tiny non-profit I work with just went through the whole process; if they could afford it, anybody could.
posted by ook at 1:02 PM on March 3, 2004

OK -- just checked with the nonprofit; these are ballpark US figures: $400 startup fee
Merchant bank account: "some startup fee, can't remember. Must've been pretty small, or I'd remember."

Ongoing costs: "Between the bank and, about $30-$40/month combined."
The credit card companies take an extra 1-2% off each transaction. M/C and Visa pay you immediately; AmEx makes you save your reciepts and send them in every month before they'll give you your cash.
posted by ook at 2:43 PM on March 3, 2004

Check out an executive membership at Costco; I seem to remember it comes with a credit card processing offer that is pretty good.
posted by kindall at 4:18 PM on March 3, 2004

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