For a long time, financial transactions were rather dull. Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or simple cash represented almost the entirety of the possibilities for moving money around, a scenario that has made the rapid growth of ‘alternative’ payment methods seem almost inexplicable. This was all before the emergence of PayPal in 1998…
Of course, PayPal’s system now seems just as boring as solid currency, but that’s only due to its incredible popularity around the world. PayPal is now a household name and a commercial brand available in more than 200 countries. Inevitably, the outcome of all this fame is that copycats and competitors have arisen in an ongoing game of oneupmanship, something that has so far proven beneficial for customers, who are now spoilt for choice.
Just a few names on the list of PayPal rivals are Skrill, Neteller, and all the mobile phone manufacturers, namely, Apple, Samsung, and Google. Oddly enough, mobile is currently one of the few places where PayPal itself struggled to gain a foothold, despite a recent overhaul of its app. Its purchase of Venmo in 2012 did provide a solution to this problem, however, given the latter’s popularity with tech-happy millennials.
One of the more niche platforms is Play+, a reloadable account designed for use at resorts, sportsbooks, and casinos. In a physical capacity, Play+ allows casino visitors to dispense with queues altogether. A real card is still involved with transactions but, as it can be used online, this is only the case if the owner wants to top-up or withdraw at a brick-and-mortar casino.
The major downside of Play+ is that each casino requires its own card, which can cause a strain on players’ wallets. It’s also noted that Play+ can take several weeks to set up, which isn’t ideal. Nevertheless, Play+ has been highly recommended for use at real money online casinos, along with PayPal, largely due to the fact that the card is entirely cashless. Funds are also held in an account insured by FDIC (an agency created by Congress), meaning that security is almost a guarantee.
The question that still needs to be answered is, why are customers moving away from traditional payment methods such as VISA towards modern systems? As mentioned, part of this shift is due to availability. However, alternative payment options can assist with very specific issues. Just look at how people in Venezuela dealt with the recent inflation crisis – by switching to cryptocurrency.
As PayPal now accepts cryptocurrency, too, the lines between one way of paying and another continue to blur. This point brings us neatly to the fact that e-wallets can help funnel a handbag full of credit and debit cards, as well as crypto, into a single portal that does not share personal information with the recipient. Consequently, sites such as PayPal offer significant security benefits over both cash and plastic.
Overall, while the vast number of digital payments providers out there can be intimidating for newcomers, their flexibility is a boon for shoppers everywhere.