Mar 20 2007

Dear PayPal, My Thoughts Do Not Fit In 40 Characters

Published by at 4:25 pm under Business   

I recently closed a PayPal account. During the closing process, and again thereafter, I was surveyed as to why I closed the account. Predictably, these surveys offered a few choices for why I didn’t want the account, with only a tiny field if I wanted to explain in more detail why I closed it. I picked the choices that were closest to my actual reasons; but they really were not close at all.

(Kyle’s Business Tip of The Day: You really aren’t helping yourself, or your customers, if you set up feedback mechanisms that only allow you to hear messages you want to hear.)

So here is my reason to be wary of PayPal: I can start with a credit card, but I won’t get far that way; to do anything useful with PayPal, I need to grant them full access to my bank account. At every bank I’ve ever used, there is no mechanism for partial access. Once a vendor is in, there is nothing I can do to stop them from withdrawing all my money. For example, there is no way to say “this vendor can pull out up to $N in a month, and no more”; at most I can get, in some cases, notification of transactions. This is unsafe: fraudulent access to my PayPal account, or a bug at PayPal, could empty my bank account.

There is no “push” way to get money in to PayPal. An example of Push would be that I mail them a check, they deposit it, they wait N days for it to clear, then they put the money in my PayPal account. Push is safe; it avoid granting them “Pull” access to my accounts.

These issues are not solely PayPal’s, rather they are caused by the broken bank payment system here in the U.S.; but it is clearly PayPal’s choice to not provide a workaround in the form of a “push” deposit mechanism.

(European readers will probably find all this silly; apparently in that part of the world there are “push” mechanisms to transfer money electronically, and for all I know PayPal may work like that European customers.)

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One response so far

One Response to “Dear PayPal, My Thoughts Do Not Fit In 40 Characters”

  1. I have had the same misgivings. Finally I decided to get another free checking account with another bank where I could keep it empty and thus simulate the push deposit, where I just push in there a minimal amount that I want to use. It’s amazing that the average user would instead just let them have access to the full account otherwise they would have been forced to change this.