Business Case Studies mythbuster

PayPal vs. TransferGo

Nowadays, people expect the digital services that they use to be fairly instant – whether it’s sending messages, ordering a new piece of clothing or transferring money. It’s 2017 after all: an impatient age where speed can trump service quality.

However, some services just aren’t as fast (or instant) as we’d expect or hope; that was certainly the case when I recently used PayPal for the first time: it took more than three weeks to transfer a mere £107 from my PayPal account into my bank account. It felt like an unnecessarily drawn-out process and a real hassle; a process I do not want to repeat now or anytime in the future.

(To clarify, the motivation behind this article isn’t that I write a few blogs each month for TransferGo, but that, in the past few months I’ve used both PayPal and TransferGo to send and receive money).

Earlier this year I used TransferGo to buy a house in rural Romania, which involved transferring money from one overseas account to another — and it was quite a bit more than £107. However, it got sorted in a better of days.

After filling in the bank details and the amount I wanted to transfer, I was contacted by TransferGo’s customer support team asking for further information: Where did the money come from? Could I prove it? And various other key security components to protect people (and governments) from getting ripped off. It was a smooth service.

Because I knew how rapid and reliable the TransferGo was following the house purchase, I did advise the person who needed to pay me £107 to use TransferGo, but nonetheless, he proceeded to use PayPal and the fiasco ensued.

It was somewhat baffling when every time I logged into my PayPal account and tried to ‘withdraw’ my money that was in my digital ‘wallet’ — I couldn’t. There was reason after reason as to why withdrawing my money wasn’t possible and so eventually I called customer support to ask what was going on. A nice Irishman explained to me that as a new customer they needed to confirm that the ‘item’ had been sent to the paymaster, therefore, the payment was being ‘held’. Even so, it begs the question: why did it take so long?

The answer to the question is open to speculation, and quite frankly, as a consumer, I couldn’t have cared less — I just wanted the money that was apparently in my ‘wallet’. In fact, when finally I could ‘withdraw’ the money, it said that it may take a number of days to actually land in my account. It felt like a carefully orchestrated joke.

And so, after almost one whole month of waiting I did finally receive the money, however, my main takeaway from my first PayPal experience was that it’s simply too much of a hassle to bother. I’ve read of similar accounts where people were sent money via PayPal in emergencies, which ended up being rather useless due to its slow processing.

PayPal may be a digital payments behemoth and it continues to grow as it moves into new markets such as the retail marketplace. But ultimately, digital payment services are meant to make money transfers easier, faster, safer and cheaper.

It may be a bit far-fetched, but it’s ironic that it would have been easier, faster and just as safe for me to fly to America to receive the small payment. Even a cheque in the post would have likely been a faster service. And that, frankly, just doesn’t seem right.


Journalist based in Romania writing for TransferGo Blog. He has written before for The Times, BBC, The Guardian, Forbes, The Independent, New Statesman, The Spectator, IBT, & others | Follow him on social media for a chat.

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