SAN FRANCISCO (05/25/2000) - A new electronic payment system called ProPay goes live this week, permitting individuals to accept payments by credit card--online or off--just as they now can accept checks.
ProPay will give sellers in commercial transactions more credibility while also protecting buyers against fraud, says Clay Wilkes, the chief executive officer of ProPay.com Inc.
By using a credit card, "buyers retain their full right of recourse," Wilkes says. "If something goes wrong with the transaction, they have the ability to charge back."
Sellers are protected, too. "ProPay assumes all the risk," Wilkes says.
ProPay's online payment service, called WebPay, is suited for online sales, such as auctions, Wilkes says. Sellers register for a ProPay account at the company's Web site. After a sale, the seller goes to the ProPay Web site and enters the buyer's e-mail address. The buyer then receives an e-mail containing a unique Web address, at which he or she submits the appropriate credit card information. Two days later, the money is deposited in the seller's ProPay "commerce account," from which it can be electronically transferred to a bank.
Offline, Personal Pay lets a seller at, say, a garage sale, accept a credit card payment by going to the ProPay Web site and entering a buyer's credit card information, similar to the way merchants do in brick and mortar stores.
Registering for ProPay is free. The company charges no setup or monthly maintenance fees. It charges sellers a 35-cent transaction fee and 3.5 percent of the transaction value. Sellers can transact up to $1000 a month, up to $250 on each transaction.
Cash Flies Online
ProPay provides other payment services that do not involve credit cards. One is Exchange Cash, which enables two registered users to transfer money between their ProPay accounts. Its Beam Cash service allows Pro Pay users to beam money in their accounts between their personal digital assistants, such as Palm devices. The Send Cash service allows users to transfer money from their ProPay accounts electronically to any bank checking account, "almost like a personal wire service," Wilkes says.
"I like to think of ProPay as enabling old forms of money to move about the system in more efficient ways," says Wilkes.
TradeSafe allows person-to-person credit card transactions but works online only. And BillPoint works similarly, but only on the eBay auction site.
Companies like ProPay are "opening new doors for consumer-to-consumer applications," says Keith Waryas, a research manager for IDC's Consumer eCommerce group.
Wilkes says ProPay is working with companies such as Qualcomm Inc., 3Com Corp., and Nokia Corp. to develop systems that let people make electonic payments and exchange cash on Web-enabled cell phones and handheld devices.
"That will enable people to do e-commerce in a way that doesn't exist today," Wilkes says.