Today, we conduct more transactions than ever in the online world. Whether you want to read a newspaper, order a pizza, renew your car insurance or bet on a horse race, the chances are you will do it online.
20 years ago, the idea of sharing your bank details over the internet was something you would think twice or three times about, yet now we do it several times a day. Online transactions account for 18 percent of all retail transactions in the UK, and that is a figure that is increasing every year.
The amount we spend is not the only thing that is increasing. The mechanisms for doing so are also evolving. Sure, you can simply send your bank and credit card details to everyone, and with modern-day encryption, it should be fine nine times out of ten. However, even if that’s 99 times out of 100, there is still that chance of something going wrong.
Surely there is an easier way. Of course, there is – here, we look at three of the most popular ways to spend money safely online.
PayPal – the most popular choice
It is the payment mechanism that even technophobes are familiar with. PayPal came to the fore by entering into a partnership with internet auction giant eBay, and neither site ever looked back. If you looked at it from a 20th-century perspective, the mere words “internet auction” would have caused a double red flag. Yet PayPal helped provide reassurance to buyers and sellers by providing protection to both while negating the need to share bank account details.
Today, PayPal is accepted across a range of online sectors and has expanded beyond retail. One example is the many online casino sites that accept PayPal as a means of transferring funds to and from a gambler’s account. It works well for both the players and the operators and means funds can be transferred in either direction with maximum speed and minimum fuss.
By being the first, PayPal has become familiar and that breeds trust. Perhaps this is why others have found it hard to enter the market and compete – after all, when it comes to choosing a payment provider, trust is everything. Companies like Google and Apple are literally cashing in on their familiarity and reputation to provide a viable alternative.
Google Pay and Apple Wallet started out life as simple ways to manage your app purchases, but can now be used in the real world at a growing number of outlets, or for completing online e-commerce transactions.
Bitcoin – a new type of currency
There has been lots of media coverage of Bitcoin as an investment, but at its heart, it is designed to be a currency for spending, just like anything else. The casino sites mentioned above have been among the first to really explore Bitcoin payments, but some retailers like Etsy and Microsoft are now starting to come on board.
The technology on which Bitcoin is based is second to none, and with transactions being seamless, a virtual currency is the most logical way to spend money in the virtual world. The cryptocurrency age is only beginning, but expect it to become increasingly important over the next decade.