By Leeann Cannon, Editorial Director, PYMNTS.com
Gone is the need to hassle over shared taxis fares, restaurant bills or other group purchases — peer-to-peer payments have gone digital and are now easier than ever with the increasing supply of banking and money transfer apps. Even if you need to pay a babysitter or reimburse a colleague for lunch, all you need is your smartphone.
Worldwide, people sent $63 billion in person-to-person money transfers during 2011, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the $106 billion in worldwide mobile transactions, according research firm Gartner’s figures. In 2016, such transfers could top $300 billion, says Sandy Shen, a research director at Gartner. I will definitely be part of that statistic.
My brother and I recently took my parents out to dinner to celebrate a pair of milestone birthdays and made the ultimate dining faux pas — I didn’t check the menu prices before selecting the restaurant. The drink menu started at $24 per cocktail… I won’t even tell you what appetizers cost. Needless to say, the bill was hefty (though totally worth it!) and my brother put it on his rewards card to collect points. I wanted to pay him before we parted ways (he lives in Baltimore; I live in Boston) and I knew a paper check could be a real pain in this digital age, and there was no ATM in sight.
After trying unsuccessfully to set up a working PayPal account, I decided to log into my bank’s mobile website to see if they had any suggestions. Seeing the “Pay Bills & People” option in the navigation, I clicked and was taken to a page offering Popmoney services. I was skeptical at first, knowing how tedious the setup had been for other money transfer platforms, but decided to give it a shot.
I was pleasantly surprised when all I had to do was enter the recipient’s email address and the amount I wanted to send. The fee? ONE DOLLAR! That’s it. The recipient (my brother) received an email notifying him of the payment. Once he returned home that evening, he provided his bank account information at Popmoney.com and the money was sent to the account he specified. In just three days from start to finish, the money was in my brother’s hands (and he never had to make the dreadful, out-of-the-way trip to his bank’s physical location!).
Since my experience just three weeks ago, Popmoney — a Fiserv product — has updated its services and now offers instant person-to-person payments. The Popmoney Instant Payments feature extends the functionality of the Popmoney social person-to-person payments service, making it indispensable when an immediate exchange of money is required.
"As the first major bank to offer the convenience of person-to-person electronic payments in late 2009 with Popmoney, PNC intends to be the first again to offer the enhanced speed of Popmoney Instant Payments,” said Thomas S. Kunz, director of E-Business and Payments at PNC Bank. “This feature responds to the demands of our technology-savvy customers to transfer funds any time, any day with immediate access by the recipient. We anticipate great interest in this improved technology.”
Popmoney is currently offered at more than 1,800 banks and credit unions, or anyone can sign-up at Popmoney.com.