Person-to-person payments remain one of the final frontiers of electronic payments. While most merchants accept credit cards or debit cards, there's nowhere to swipe your card on the spot if you owe your friend $20.
While a number of banks and online services offer electronic person-to-person payments, there's nothing that's been able to supplant cash and checks as a way for people to make informal payments to baby sitters, friends, bake sales, etc.
At its highly anticipated I/O conference this week, Google unveiled a new feature to its Google Wallet that may get more people using electronic payments for those types of transactions. It basically puts a button on new emails that allows Wallet users to attach money to a Gmail message.
The service won't necessarily be free, though. There won't be a charge for transferring money directly from a bank account or your Google Wallet Balance, a sort of prepaid account attached to your Google Wallet. But using a debit card or credit card will cost you a little less than 3 percent of the amount you transfer, with a 30-cent minimum. On a $100 transaction, that amounts to $2.90, which isn't too bad, comparatively speaking. According to an online quote from Western Union, you'd be charged $10 for a similar transaction.
Anticipating that some users might feel a little squeamish about attaching payments to email, Google offers a 100 percent refund on unauthorized transactions, with some caveats, such as a 180-day time limit on reporting fraud issues. There's also a $10,000 daily limit on the amount you can transfer using the service, or a $50,000 weekly limit, according to a Google spokeswoman.
Overall, the service looks like it could win some converts to Google Wallet. If you're willing to hook Google Wallet up to your checking account and thus transfer money for free, the service might put you one step closer to banishing your checkbook forever.
What do you think? Would you send cash over email? Are you too accustomed to using a checkbook to give it up?
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