Remember checks? Some of us still use them on occasion. They are those paper things we have to fill out by hand and use to pay for stuff, mostly rent and maybe a birthday gift for the nephew. Just like the U.S. Postal Service is rapidly being replaced by e-mail, checks (and, in some cases, cash) are being replaced with electronic transactions. Virtually every bank has some form of online banking that includes everything from transfers to bill pay -- in most instances, the bank will actually send a check for you. Progress.
For years, the only reliable form of online electronic payment if you didn't have a merchant account -- and only businesses really have those -- was PayPal. It provided a secure way to send money to someone and became the first payment method of choice for Ebay customers. But while merchant services for business expanded rapidly -- today, anyone can use an iPhone or iPad with Square or Intuit to accept credit card payments anywhere there is a connection to the Internet -- the consumer market saw services expand slowly until this week.More »