These days, we’ve come to live in a largely cashless society. For most people, their salary arrives in their bank account as a bunch of numbers and then disappears again as the numbers that relate to their mortgage, utility bills and other regular expenses that appear in the other column on their online bank statement. Even when we go shopping, there is rarely cash involved anymore, with everything from the bus or train into town, to the coffee and cake we treat ourselves to, all paid for with a card, usually via contactless payments.
With online banking making it so easy to manage our money and pay for things, both in-person and online, you might wonder why we need services such as PayPal. After all, everything you pay for with PayPal can also be paid for with your debit or credit card.
However, there are several ways in which PayPal has the upper hand over traditional payment methods, including convenience, security, dispute resolution, and personal privacy. Let’s take a look at each one, in turn, to see why PayPal is still a relevant and essential part of your personal finances and why it is so popular with 305 million active users worldwide.
One of the biggest plusses for PayPal is the convenience of making payments at the click of a button. Instead of entering a whole bunch of information every time, and including that ‘long number’ on the front of the card that you always get wrong and have to repeat, you can simply click the PayPal button and pay in seconds. This way of paying can be made even quicker if you activate one-touch payments on your PayPal account, with one-touch available at over 6 million merchants.
You can use the service in all kinds of outlets these days, there are even casinos that accept PayPal. No less than 87.5% of online shoppers use PayPal, conducting 40.6 transactions per year, which are worth an estimated $711bn in 2019, according to the latest PayPal statistics.
Not only is paying by PayPal quicker and easier, but it is also more secure. Instead of giving your bank or card details to every online vendor you use, you simply trust your details to PayPal and let them make the payment on your behalf. While even PayPal is not invulnerable to fraudsters, the fewer times you put your financial information online, the less risk there is of those details being stolen and misused.
In theory, you are protected by your credit or debit card if there is a problem with a product or service you have bought, but getting your money back can be a lengthy process.
What’s more, because PayPal is so closely tied to eBay, dispute resolution is front and center in its offering, with quick, clear pathways to raise a problem and have it resolved on your behalf. PayPal will provide an independent voice between you and the vendor, investigate your complaint within 10-14 days, and automatically refund the money if they rule in your favor. With many online purchases, you can opt to pay after delivery with PayPal at no extra cost. This gives you 14 days in which to receive and approve your goods before you are charged for them.
For many users, one of the most important benefits of using PayPal is privacy. It is ideal for occasions when you are planning a surprise for your partner and don’t want it showing up on your joint bank statement a smartphone app. It is also perfect if you would rather keep certain purchases to yourself. PayPal provides a discreet way to pay that keeps your personal business private and confidential.
With so many benefits, it is hardly surprising that PayPal is growing at such incredible speed in terms of both users and the cash they are spending. The company has doubled its revenue in just four years, from $2.54bn in quarter one 2016 to $4.96bn in quarter four 2019. With hard cash accounting for fewer and fewer transactions every year, perhaps it is time that the traditional banks rose to the challenge and offers their customers the same level of service.