PayPal is debuting a new way for users to send money to others and receive it. Called PayPal.me, the service lets users create a personalized web link that can be sent to collect money from friends, family, and business contacts.
With peer to peer payments, people can link their debit card accounts online and digitally transfer money to anyone, essentially replacing cash and checks. PayPal launched its peer to peer payments offering years ago, but the idea has drawn a lot of interest lately from technology and payments companies, with Square, Snapchat, and Facebook (FB) all launching rival peer to peer payments services over the past two years.
Previously, PayPal users could already send money to any other account holder by entering an email address. This new upgrade lets them include a permanent link to send to people. The benefit of creating making a payment through PayPal.me (PYPL) is that you can send the link via email, text, or in a messaging app. While PayPal is aiming this service to consumers and businesses, the feature is likely most useful to businesses that use PayPal as a way to request and collect money from customers.
Using the link to transfer money is free in the U.S. if the payee is using a bank account to transfer funds. If a credit card is used, then the person who is making the payment is charged 2.9% for the transfer.
Earlier this year, competitor Square introduced a similar feature for its payments app, Square Cash, called $cashtag, that lets contractors and service professionals accept money through a unique, personalized link.
Although mobile payments are growing, payments made from debit accounts represent the smallest piece of the digital payments pie behind in-store payments and in-app payments, which are payments made through an e-commerce app on a phone. People don’t want to be charged a fee when transferring money to someone else’s debit account, which is not a factor when paying with cash or check.
But PayPal has an advantage against its competitors: a larger base of users. According to Forrester Research, 73% of American adults who use the Internet and make digital payments to friends and family use PayPal. PayPal-owned social payments app Venmo, which is only available in the U.S., has been growing fast, especially among millennials. Last year alone, Venmo’s total payments volume rang in at $2.4 billion.
One reason why PayPal has two similar services is that PayPal’s existing person to person digital payments service is offered outside of the U.S.
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