The FIRSTGATE account I opened in order to pay my Individual.NET subscription eventually became ClickandBuy. I continued to use it for the annual subscription until I noticed that Individual.NET were also accepting payment by PayPal. Since I wasn't using my ClickandBuy account for anything else I closed it. I use PayPal occasionaly (for example when I sell something on eBay) and have still not had any problems with it. However, I have just read a recent PayPal horror story.
Recently I tried using Amazon Payments to pay for something. I already had an Amazon account that I had bought stuff with and it can be used to pay for stuff from third parties too - it seemed to work fine.
I have been using News.Individual.NET for posting to Usenet. I signed up when it was a free service but they are not signing up new free accounts and as of 2005-04-01 accounts will be disabled unless they have been converted to paid-for accounts. The service only costs 10 EUR per year and it is worth it to me to maintain my current posting identity. So the point is that the only payment option is to use FIRSTGATE.
I had not heard of this so I did a bit of searching and found an interesting essay about micropayments by Robin Good called First Fame, Then Fortune which mentions both Bitpass and FirstGate. Further searching lead me to the website of webpay International AG of whose "click&buy alliance" FIRSTGATE is a member. It all looked pretty reasonable to me so I signed up and have had no problems so far.
I never did get round to trying BitPass - perhaps one day I will find time. But now there something else that looks worth checking out called affero.
I have been looking at BitPass as another option for making and receiving online payments. At first glance it seems to be a better proposition than PayPal, especially for small transactions.
I needed a way to add funds to my PayPal account which meant I had to register a credit card. This had the side effect of enrolling me for expanded use, but I still could not add money to the account in the way I wanted. What you have to do is use PayPal to pay for something anyway, and if you have no balance in the account it just sucks money from your credit card to cover it. I guess that is fine.
No problems so far with PayPal but I have only accepted on small test payment and haven't bought anything yet. The only reason I am updating this page to to mention the recent launch of their new UK site with certain benefits for UK users.
Forewarned is forearmed and so, notwithstanding my earlier criticism I have signed up for a PayPal account! I have not registered a credit card and I do not intend to accumulate a significant balance. I don't expect any problems and will update you in a future entry on this page.
I was thinking of setting up a PayPal account for making and receiving online payments but after doing some basic research I decided against it. I learned a lot in the process though and this is a quick summary with particular emphasis on appropriate solutions for those of us based in the UK and looking for a method of receiving online payments.
There is a good overview at www.electronic-payments.co.uk which covers all the basic methods of receiving payments online. For a company expecting to receive substantial revenue through online trading it may be worth considering "Merchant Service" with a credit card company which can be extended to include "Customer not Present" transactions. For small businesses it is probably more cost effective to make use of a "Payment Bureau" such as WorldPay or Netbanx. Then at the low end of the scale there are "Person 2 Person" services such as Nochex, PayPal and FastPay.
As I said, I was initially thinking of setting up a PayPal account but it seems they have some serious problems which put me right off the idea. For further information take a look at:
These websites suggest various alternatives to PayPal but many of them are US based which may not be ideal for UK users. You may want to consider www.nochex.com which is UK based, allowing anyone with a UK debit card and an email address to set up an account.
I should warn you that users of both PayPal and Nochex have recently been targeted by fraudsters. A bogus email tries to trick users into giving up account passwords and bank card details. See articles about PayPal scam and Nochex scam from "The Register".
If what you want to do is set up a web page to raise money for a charitable organisation then www.justgiving.com might be just what you are looking for.
Finally, here are a few more electronic money systems that may be worth considering:
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010