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Paypal haters: stop acting like frauds

15th March 2017

I sometimes get asked if it's possible to buy stickers from the shop without using Paypal. I like those questions. Paypal pretty much has a monopoly in the market for payment gateways, in particular for small websites like this one. And the company is behaving like a monopolist. On Ebay they block alternatives such as Google Wallet; they have suspended the account of Wikileaks (they clearly don't like websites that report wrongdoing); their term and conditions state that I'm not allowed to talk down the service. The list goes on.

A while ago I looked into Paypal alternatives for this website, and I got close. What made me decide to stick with Paypal, however, is the fact that the alternatives were either charging ludicrous fees or demanded excessive amounts of personal data. I also noted that, like Paypal, all the alternatives were based in tax havens. In short, there are no ethical Paypal alternatives. (In the Netherlands many online shops use Ideal, which let's you pay by logging into your online bank account during the checkout process to authorise the transaction - I'd love a system like that over here).

At the same time I've noticed that the majority of the people who ask me about avoiding Paypal don't go ahead with the transaction. They happily expect me to give them the name of my bank account, the sort code and account number, and of course my name, email address and phone number. That's a lot of personal data to give to someone you don't know, via email. Folk on online forums seem to agree that this isn't an issue, although some point to Jeremy Clarkson being stung by a fraud stunt after publishing his bank details online. I decided to ask my bank for advice, and they were quite clear: don't give people that much personal data and force them to use Paypal.

So, that's what I'll do. I'd love to help people avoid using Paypal, but the simple fact is that most of the people who ask me about this behave like fraudsters. If you want to avoid Paypal you can still pay via cheque.

Last updated: 
15th March 2017

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