Bank Wire

Wire Transfer

Wire transfer, or credit transfer as it is also known, is a way of transferring funds from one person or institution to another by electronic means. Wire transfers can be made between bank accounts, or through a transfer of money at an appropriate financial office.

There is a wide variance of options relative to the speed of transfers, the way the transaction is enacted, and the costs involved. The central bank wire transfer system, for example, as used by the US Federal Reserve provides a quick availability of funds as the transfer happens in real time, and there is no option for the transfer to be reversed before the funds become available. Other systems, such as CHIPS (Clearing House Interbank Payments System) have a clearing system similar to cheques, which means funds are not available until the transaction has cleared, and a transaction can be cancelled at any time up to that point.

Wire Transfer history

Wire transfers have been around since before the 1900s. They developed as a way of transferring money as a country's telegraph system was set up, particularly in the United States where money needed to be transferred from coast to coast in a more acceptable way than physically transporting it across several states.

One of the first companies to offer wire transfers in the US was the (then) telegraph company Western Union. In the late 1800s, a person needing to transfer amounts of cash across the US would approach Western Union and request that the transaction take place. They would then give Western Union the money. Western Union would then send a telegraph to the nearest Western Union office to the person or institution who needed to receive the money, instructing that office to deliver the cash to the person as necessary. Western Union would charge a fee on top of the money being 'wired' for the use of this service.

In 1974 a co-operative society called SWIFT was created by seven international banks in order to execute secure international bank transfers. The society developed a series of codes called BICs (Bank Identifier Codes) or SWIFT codes. BIC codes are today used for all kinds of international monetary transfers, and not just wire transfers.

Wire Transfer today

The use of wire transfers to move money is now no longer as popular or as attractive a method of moving money for personal customers as it once was, mainly due to the fees involved. As of 2012, the Bank of America charged $25 to send a domestic wire transfer, and $12 to receive one. To enact an international transfer, those fees increase to $35 to $45 outgoing, and $16 incoming.

Despite the rise in internet financial solutions, most major financial organisations still use wire transfers to settle accounts between themselves and other similar institutions as wire transfers are seen as being more secure. In the United States alone, the amount of money that is moved using wire transfers per annum is over $600 trillion, although this is diminishing as online transactions are becoming increasing secure due to advanced encryption techniques.


Cheque payments

Cheques (or Checks in US English) are small documents that give order to banks to pay money from a bank account. The person who writes the cheque is known as the drawer, and must have a transactional bank account against which the cheque is drawn. The cheque usually contains the amount to be paid in figures and numbers and the person to whom the money should be paid, and is also signed by the drawer. The person whom is being paid them sends the document to their bank, who makes the transaction, paying the person or company to whom the cheque was issued the amount on the cheque, then exchanging the balance of all cheques issued that day between the two banks involved.

A cheque is an example of a bill of exchange, and cheques were introduced to save people from having to carry large sums of money around in order to pay for goods and services. Bank notes were originally in the form of cheques that were supplied in designated denominations.

Cheque payments history

It is unclean where the word 'cheque' originates, but most people believe it be from the French word chèque, which can mean 'control'. Interestingly, the similar word 'check' in chess (spoken when a player attacks their opponent's king) has the same etymological root.

Cheques have been around since before the birth of Christ. In ancient India, merchants used a system known as 'adesha' in which traders would sign a note ordering their banker to pay another trader a certain amount of money, which was then passed to the trader who needed to be paid.

The cheque system became popular with the advent of banks in the early 1500s. People with wealth would deposit their money with cashiers, and instead of going to the cashier to withdraw funds in order to pay someone, they would simply pass the payee a signed note instead. The payee could then take their note to the cashier to receive the sum they were owed in cash.

The Bank of England were the first to issue pre-printed cheques, which they did in 1717. All banks that used cheques would meet on a daily basis to exchange cheques and work out any balances owed - this became known as 'cheque clearing'.

In 1969 cheque guarantee cards were introduced. There cards had to be signed and acted as security when paying by cheque, as the signature on the card had to match the signature on the cheque. These cards were replaced by multipurpose debit cards in the mid-1990s. This was around the same time that cheque-use reached its peak, especially as most financial institutions now had developed automated cheque systems.

Cheque payments Today

The rise in alternative means of payments, particularly debit cards and eWallet solutions, has seen a rapid decline in the use of cheques. In most of Europe, cheques are seldom used at all - instead instant bank transfers made over the internet are preferred. In 2009 the UK Payments Council announced that cheques would be gradually phased out altogether, and would cease to be a legal way of making payments by October 2018, pending a review.


Quick Pay

Quick Pay is a electronic payment system that has been created by the leading US company Western Union. The Quick Pay system links a customer's Western Union account to the merchant account that the customer wishes to pay. The money needed to settle the transaction is paid into the Western Union account, either by cash or some other means at a real-world Western Union outlet, or online. The Quick Pay system acts as a conduit between the merchant and the customer.

The Quick Pay system is in effect an eCommerce version of the money wire transfer system that has been running uninterrupted since the late 1800s. It allows people to make online payments and payments for remote services who do not have credit cards or other eWallet solutions.

Quick Pay history

Western Union began life as a company in the middle of the 1800s, and soon became the largest and most powerful company in the USA, mainly thanks to its monopoly of the telegraph system. It was the most frequently used messaging system and money transfer system in the United States, with its network of telegraph wires that stretched from coast to coast, and from Canada to Mexico, and eventually internationally. Western Union began to lose its monopoly on communications in the US once the telephone system overtook the telegraph, since which it has concentrated on the financial aspects of its business.

Quick Pay was introduced by Western Union just before the end of 1999, as a method of allowing companies to receive money faster than other remote financial services. The service was initially free, and payments made by consumers typically appear in the merchants account the day after they are made.

Quick Pay today

Quick Pay is preferred by customers who do not wish to give sensitive financial information such as credit card numbers and bank account details to merchants they are unfamiliar with. A customer can either enact their transaction online (passing their sensitive information to Western Union as opposed to the merchant) or by cash at a Western Union outlet. The customer simply needs to fill in the requisite form at the outlet, and then pay in cash or by some other method. They will need to know the accepted Company Name and Company Code of whom they are paying, as well as some means by which they can be identified as the sender of the payment. The agent will convert the amount to the equivalent in the merchant's currency, and add the fee that the customer is required to pay on top. The agent will also give the customer a Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) by which the transaction can be identified if necessary.

There are numerous Western Union outlets all over the world. The current total is estimated at around 212,000 across 170 different countries. A customer can find their closest by using the agent locator on the Western Union website. There is typically a minimum deposit amount of around £10, and Quick Pay transactions generally takes a maximum of 16 hours to enact.

Western Union Quick Pay transactions are only one way. A customer cannot withdraw funds into their account by this method.



BACS is a scheme for the automated electronic processing of financial transactions within the UK. BACS previously stood for Bankers' Automated Clearing Services, but now 'BACS' is the name of the system in its own right. All direct debits from customers to merchants and direct deposits are made using the BACS system. BACS payments typically take three working days to clear. Payments are entered into the system on the first day, are processed on the second day, and then are cleared on the third day. The BACS system is jointly owned and controlled by several UK banks, and is operated by the company BACS Payment Schemes Limited.

BACS history

The BACS system was devised by Dennis Gladwell in 1968, as the "Inter-Bank Computer Bureau". Previous to the BACS systems, bank payments and transfers were made using a paper-based system, meaning the payment times were slow, and the system was prone to human error. With the new system transactions were logged into a computer, and transactions processed and then stored on magnetic tape. The company set up to run BACS adopted the name "Bankers' Automated Clearing Services Limited" in 1971, and the BACS acronym was born. More and more banks and building societies joined the scheme over time. The systems at each separate institution were connected by telephone cables to the BACS central processing system.

In 1984 a rival to BACS was set up, known as CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System). The CHAPS system was faster than BACS (payments were often processed in one day), but using CHAPS was more expensive than BACS.

In 2003, BACS underwent a major upheaval when it moved from the existing telephone dial-up system BACSTEL to a new, internet-based service called BACSTEL-IP, with the aim of speeding up BACS payments. All institutions who were part of the BACS system were forced to move to the BACSTEL-IP system by the beginning of 2006.

By the end of 2005, complaints were levelled at BACS over the fact that BACS transfers took so long to complete (still up to three working days), in comparison to other BACS-type systems such as the Elle system used in Scandinavian countries. Between 2006 and 2008 a major overhaul was made to the BACS system, enabling some transactions to be enacted in as little as three minutes. This system was known as "Faster Payments" and ran alongside the traditional BACS system.

BACS today

The current members of BACS are Santander UK, Barclays, Citi, HSBC, National Australian Group, the Co-operative Bank, HBOS, Lloyds Bank, TSB, the Nationwide Building Society, Dankse Bank, Virgin Money and the Royal Bank of Scotland. These banks are responsible for 95 percent of payments that are made in the UK.

Most regular payments from businesses to customers (such as wages, salaries, pensions, state benefits and tax credits) and from customers to businesses (direct debits, utility bill payments, subscriptions) are made using the BACS system.

Only businesses that have been approved by BACS Payment Schemes Limited are able to accept BACS payments.

Visa Electron

Visa Electron

Visa Electron is a debit card that's used across most of the world, with the exception of Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States. These four countries just use the usual Visa Debit card, and indeed the Visa Electron card was introduced in 1985 as a sister card to the Visa Debit card.

The difference between a Visa Electron card and a Visa Debit card is that if a purchase or transaction is made using a Visa Electron card and there are insufficient funds in the cardholder's account to cover the value of the transaction, then the transaction is refused. Visa Debit cards can be used if there are insufficient funds, up to a specific limit. Many offline ATMs and purchase terminals do not accept Visa Electron cards as they lack the functionality to check for the availability of funds in the cardholder's account.

Visa Electron history

Visa began as a company in 1958, as part of Bank of America in Fresno, California. The bank took the unusual move of mailing out its new credit card, called the BankAmericard, to anyone and everyone it thought suitable of owning one, and hoped that enough people would be swayed to use the plastic to pay for purchases. The idea proved initially to be something of a disaster, as although Bank of America had budgeted that 4 percent of the cards would fall into 'the wrong hands' and be used fraudulently, in actuality nearly a quarter of the cards were used by people who had no intention of settling their accounts honourably. In the end, Bank of America confessed that the venture cost them over $20 million, but at least it helped to establish the 'Visa' name. The BankAmericard was renamed 'Visa' in the middle of the 1970s when a handful of other financial institutions came on board to use the credit card services as created by Bank of America.

Visa Electron today

In the UK, Visa Debit cards vastly outnumber Visa Electron cards. Of all the major UK banks, only HBOS still issues the Visa Electron card, and then only to very basic bank accounts where there is no overdraft facility, and accounts designed exclusively for children and teenagers, and people with low incomes or poor credit histories.

Retailers are usually happy to take Visa Electron cards (as payment) as the intercharge fee for a Visa Electron card is much lower than a Visa Debit card or credit card, due to there being no issue of the issuing bank being owed funds as the use of the card took the cardholder into the red. Online merchants also continue to accept Visa Electron cards. To accept Electron cards at a site, there is a yearly fee of €125, and a cost per transaction of between 2.3 and 2.7 percent plus €0.25.

Despite the card's slow demise in the UK, the Visa Electron card remains the 'debit card of choice' in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Most people in these areas when opening a bank account for the first time will receive a Visa Electron card for debit transactions and ATM use.

Western Union

Western Union

Western Union is a communications and financial services company based in the United States, with its headquarters in Meridian, Colorado. It is one of the most well-known and longest-surviving companies in the USA, have been in business since its founding in 1851. Western Union first came to prominence in the last 1800s when it established and completely dominated the telegraph industry, becoming the first communication empire. It was the first company to allow the 'transfer' of funds across state without the need of the money being physically moved, by the use of telegraphs and the wire transfer system.

Western Union was also the industry leader for many years in the provision of telegrams for communication purposes, although this service was discontinued in 2006.

Western Union history

Western Union began life as the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company in Rochester, New York. It was created by Hiram Sibley, who had the idea of creating a single telegraph network all across the USA to enable communication at speeds that had never before been possible. Sibley's company joined forces with the New York & Western Union Telegraph Company owned by Ezra Cornell, and together the combined company started to buy up smaller telegraph companies, and by 1860 the company's telegraph network reached all the way from the East Coast of the States to the Mississippi, and from the Ohio river to the Great Lakes.

In 1858 the company had been worth less than $400,000 but by 1876 its assets had risen in value up to $41 million. The company had introduced the stock ticker in 1866, and standardised time in 1870. In 1871 it created the first money transfer service.

By 1900 telephone lines had begun to replace the telegraph, and Western Union switched its business focus to financial services, although it still operated international telegraph routes.

In the twentieth century Western Union introduced charge cards, teletypewriters, singing telegrams, fax machines and microwave communications. The 'candygram' service, as immortalised in Mel Brooks' spoof western Blazing Saddles, commenced in the 1960s.

Western Union ended the era of the telegram, which it had run continuously since 1851, in January 2006, stating the lack of demand (less than 20,000 telegrams were now being sent per year) had made the service nonviable.

Western Union today

As of 2013, Western Union employs 7,000 people and has total assets worth in excess of $10,000 million. The company has a global network of over half a million agent locations spread across 200 countries.

Western Union still allows customers to make money transfers, which can either be done online or at a Western Union outlet. Since 2001 the recipients of wired money transfers have been able to withdraw the money they have been sent at ATMs that display a Western Union logo, and also at select American Express ATMs. This is in addition to the typical method of receiving wired funds via money orders and checks. Customers can also apply for a Western Union debit Mastercard which allows them to shop online or pay bills via money that is held in their associated Western Union accounts.



Mastercard, or Mastercard Worldwide to give the company its full name, is an American multi-national financial services organisation. The company was founded as 'Master Charge : The Interbank Card' in 1966, and was renamed Mastercard in 1979.

Mastercard owns the brands Mastercard, Maestro and Cirrus, and along with Visa and American Express is one of the most recognisable financial institutions in the world today, thanks mainly to the brand logo of a red and orange interlocking circle over which the word 'MasterCard' is printed, and which has remained virtually unchanged since the company was first founded in 1966.

Mastercard History

The Mastercard was first issued as 'Master Charge' as an interbank card in 1966, as a joint venture between the United California Bank, Wells Fargo, Crocker National Bank and the Bank California. It was the Senior Vice President of Farmer's & Merchants Bank of Long Beach, California - Robert Leavelle - who came up with the famous interlocking circles logo, with a little help from his son.

The four banks listed above formed the Interbank Card Association (ICA) in 1966, and were joined by the Marine Midland Bank of New York to create the Master Charge credit card. In 1969 the large First National City Bank joined the ICA, merging its Everything Card credit card with the Master Charge Card. Around the same time the ICA formed an alliance with the Access credit card in the UK, and Europe's Eurocard.

In 1979 the Master Charge card was renamed Mastercard. In the UK the Access credit card was dropped to be replaced by the Mastercard, as later was the Eurocard, which had been issued by Europay International SA.

In 1996 Mastercard suffered a setback when 4 million merchants got together to sue Mastercard in the federal court for forcing merchants to accept Mastercard-issued debit cards if they wanted to accept Mastercard credit cards while at the same time dramatically increasing the fees for credit card transaction processing. The case took seven years to resolve, and the largest anti-trust award in history saw Mastercard settling for a multi-billion dollar payment.

The Mastercard company changed its name to MasterCard Worldwide in 2006. The company adopted a new logo in which a third circle was added to the existing two, although the Mastercards themselves were still issued with the traditional, two circle logo.

In 2010 Mastercard acquired the UK company DataCash in order to expand its eCommerce activities. DataCash was a payment processing and fraud prevention provider. Two years later Mastercard began to expand its mobile contact-less payments system, moving into new markets such as the Middle East.

September 2014 saw Mastercard team up with Apple to provide new iPhone models with an automatic eWallet function.

Mastercard Today

Today Mastercard is one of the largest companies of the world, with over 8,000 employees all over the globe. It posts yearly revenues close to $8 billion, and has net incomes in excess of $3 billion. The company has its headquarters in Purchase, New York, and its global operations centre in O'Fallon, St Louis, in the state of Missouri.



Maestro is a multi-national debit card system that is owned and administered through Mastercard. Maestro cards are debit cards that can be used to make real world purchases, debiting the required funds via the card owner's bank account. Cards are issued along with a PIN number which allows transactions to be made via a chip and pin machine, or at an ATM to withdraw cash. Maestro cards can also be used for online purchases where accepted - card owners only need usually to enter their card number and the card's expiry date. Occassionally a separate password is needed to authorise the transaction.

Maestro cards are issued by many banks and financial institutions who are part of the system. Banks charge retailers a certain percentage of any transactions made using the card, while Mastercard charge banks a certain percentage of all fees gathered. Sometimes Mastercard will offer merchants the chance to pay a one-off yearly fee for the use of the Maestro system, as opposed to the percentage per sale.

Maestro cards are accepted at around twelve million points of sale, all over the world.

Maestro History

Mastercard introduced the Maestro card in 1992, as a new brand that was part of their Cirrus international banking system, which they had introduced a decade earlier. All three Mastercard brands can be identified by the symbol of two interlocking circles in different colours: Red and orange (Mastercard), blue and red (Maestro) and Purple and blue (Cirrus).

The Cirrus card had been introduced by Mastercard to allow card owners to withdraw cash from ATMs. The Maestro card was introduced to allow users to make retail debit purchases using the card, and to withdraw cash from ATMs as well. The Mastercard is a credit card as opposed to a debit card, and any purchases made on the card are subject to the standard fees and interest payments associated with credit cards.

Maestro cards, Cirrus cards and Mastercards can all be used at ATMs that display the Maestro, Cirrus or Mastercard symbol. Maestro cards can be used to make retail purchases at any retail store or website where the Maestro or Mastercard symbol is displayed. Cirrus cards or accounts cannot be used to make purchases.

In the UK, Maestro was part of the Switch electronic banking system, but eventually Switch was phased out as a brand to be replaced by Maestro, even though Maestro cards used the old Switch system. Maestro cards were not part of the international Maestro banking system until 2011. Most UK banks now issue either Maestro cards for debits to banking accounts, or the rival debit card system, Visa Debit.

Maestro Today

Maestro is one of the most popular debit card systems in the world, and most ATMs that are part of the Cirrus network will display the Maestro symbol in preference. It is only really in the United States, Canada and Saudi Arabia that the Cirrus symbol is preferred to the Maestro one. Also in the United States, Maestro cards are issued without a chip, unlike most of the rest of the world. To make a debit transaction in the United States, only a PIN number is required.

Paysafe Card


Paysafecard is an electronic money system that's mostly used for making online purchases, and is based upon a pre-paid system. Consumers purchase a paysafecard for a fixed amount, and the card is loaded with an designated about of money. Each paysafecard has a specific 16-digit number that identifies it uniquely. The card can be used multiple times, and repeatedly so until the balance of the card is nil, at which point it can be discarded. Paysafecard can be used any retail outlet that accepts it, but also more typically at online retailers, such as online casinos. At the point of purchase, the customer simply enters the 16-digit number associated with their card, and the transaction is approved should they have enough money on their card to complete the purchase. Multiple cards can be used to complete one purchase.

Customers can at any time check their remaining balance on any paysafecards they may own by going to the paysafecard site and entering their 16-digit code. Cards can be purchased without the need to reveal any sensitive financial information such as credit card numbers or bank account details.

Paysafecard History

The founder company of paysafecard, Wertkarten AG, was created in Vienna, Austria, in 2000. It swiftly grew in popularity as a payment method and opened branches in Germany, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the Uk in Europe, as well as Mexico, Argentina and the USA.

In 2002 paysafecard launched an eVoucher scheme, which ran alongside the physical cards that were issued. The eVouchers had all the functionality of the physical cards, but could only be used for online purchases. In 2006 paysafecard received EU funding in order to allow it to expand internationally, and in 2007 a subsidiary of the v group - Prepaid Service Company Ltd - was granted an e-money licence by the UK's FSA, which enabled it to provide eWallet payments throughout Europe.

In 2011 the company expanded again when it bought the Dutch online payment provider Wallie, but then in early 2013, Werkarten AG were bought by Skrill (formerly Moneybookers), who are one of the largest eWallet money service providers in the world, for $177 million.

Paysafecard Today

Cards can be bought at over 450,000 retail outlets all over the world, including supermarkets, petrol stations, tobacconists and newsagents. They can be bought in various denominations (for example in the UK: £10, £25, £50, $75 or £100), and there is no fee charged for the first year of use. After a year, if you still have any credit remaining on a paysafecard, then a fee (£2 per month in the UK) is deducted each month until there is no credit remaining.

Paysafe cards can be used at over 4,000 web-based retailers, including gaming companies, social media outlets and communities, online dating sites, telephone and messaging companies, internet services and to make music, film and entertainment-related purchases.

You can find your nearest paysafecard retailer by using the location tools on the paysafecard site. You can also download an app to your smartphone or tablet that will allow you to locate your nearest paysafecard retailer, wherever you may be in the world.



Ukash is an electronic money system in which people can exchange cash in the real-world environment for an electronic code that they can then use to make online purchases. Each code is unique and can be used for eWallets, loading online payment cards or transferring money online. Codes can be obtained from retail locations that have enrolled in the scheme, and other sources such as ATMs and kiosks.

Ukash History

Ukash was created in 2005 in the United Kingdom, by the company Smart Voucher Limited, who were then based in Macclesfield. It was created as a way for people to pay for goods and services online without them having to open a dedicated eWallet account with such eWallet providers as PayPal and Neteller.

Originally only a UK concern, Ukash eventually spread to all four corners of the globe as an accepted payment method, with only US-based casinos really refusing to have anything to do with it. It grew to be so successful it enabled Smart Voucher Limited to spread its wings from Macclesfield and open up plush new offices in London, near the banks of the River Thames.

In 2008 UKash partnered with the Blue Label Telecoms Group in order to reach into the South African market. Ukash also signed an agreement with Microsoft to provide secure pre-paid transactions and electronic tokens.

Ukash Today

UKash remains a UK company and as such, is regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Ukash is now available in over 50 countries worldwide.

You can find your nearest Ukash retailer by visiting the Ukash site at and entering your postcode into the Ukash location finder. Typically, any retailer that displays a Payzone, PayPoint or Epay sign will be able to supply a Ukash code. Each Ukash code is a unique, 19-digit number. Ukash customers are allowed to hold a maximum of £1,000 worth of UKash codes at any one time, and they cannot obtain more then five UKash codes of £200 in any one day.

Because the Ukash transaction simply involves the purchasing of a code for money, and there is very little in the way of a paper trail, the Ukash system has been criticised for being open to scammers, who extort Ukash codes from their victims. Some scams include offering items that do not exist for purchase over the internet - once the code has been entered the Ukash is simply collected and the ordered 'item' is never sent. In addition, malware is used to infect PCs, with demands for cash being made to unlock the PC, payments being required to be made via Ukash.

The Ukash site offers support for its customers on how to prevent falling victim to UKash scams, including advice on how to protect UKash codes by giving them the same level of protection as one would do with real money.

As well as the UKash system, UKash now offers a prepaid Mastercard Travel Card for use when travelling abroad. This card can be loaded with money via a UKash retailer, and then used to pay for goods and services wherever Mastercard is accepted.



PayPal is the world's leading international e-commerce company, allowing money transfers and payments to be made over the internet. It is a US-based company and as such, is subject to the USA's economic sanction list and other regulations as stipulated by the US legal system. As a financial institution, PayPal is classed as an acquirer as it performs payments for online vendors such as auction sites, retailer and gambling sites, for which it charges users a fee, depending on the nature of the transaction.

PayPal History

The predecessor to PayPal was called Confinity and was launched in California in late 1998 by Max Levchin, Luke Nosek, Peter Thiel and Ken Howery. Cofinity launched PayPal as an online money-transfer system, and were swiftly snapped up by the internet financial services company, although the then president and CEO of, Bill Harris, was not in favour of the purchase and resigned as a result. In less than a year terminated all other internet banking functions it provided to concentrate solely on PayPal, and indeed renamed itself as PayPal. The company rapidly expanded due to the rise in popularity of eBay, for which it was the preferred means of transaction provision.

In 2002 PayPal became a public limited company and it was acquired by eBay later that year for $1.5 billion. At the time, over a million eBay auctions used PayPal, and 70 percent of all eBay transactions were performed using PayPal. By 2008, PayPal was processing $60 billion worth of financial transactions annually, rising to $71 million a year later.

In 2003 PayPal ceased trading as an intermediary between online gambling sites and their customers following criticism, however, in 2010, PayPal began to accept transactions to and from gambling websites again, but only in countries where online gambling has been legalised and only at sites that had acquired the proper licencing.

In 2011 PayPal announced plans to allow people to use their PayPal accounts offline at real-world retailers via a phone-based app. The app allows people "check in" to the retailer or service provider they wish to pay, and then pay directly into the merchant's account.

PayPal Today

Over time, PayPal has withstood competition from rival companies who have attempted to set up their own e-commerce transaction systems, such as Yahoo!'s PayDirect and Google Checkout, both of which were eventually closed down. PayPal's only real current competition from comparable services is from Skrill (formerly Moneybookers) and Wirecard.

As of 2014, PayPal was the 41st most popular site available on the internet, and the company has annual revenues around $5.5 billion. It operates in over 200 countries using 26 different currencies and has nearly 150 million registered users.

In 2013 PayPal launched PayPal Galactic, which aims to be the first system that allows transactions to be conducted external to the Earth's atmosphere, in preparation for the predicted rise in space tourism that should follow Virgin Galactic's initial ride into space, scheduled for 2015.



Skrill is one of the leading global e-commerce brands, and provides an internet payment service for online purchases and monetary transfers. It currently rivals PayPal and Neteller as the number one provider of eWallet solutions. Skrill allows customers to make payments online without incurring substantial fees. Merchants can accept internet payments via the Skrill online payment system.

Skrill is a UK based company, with its headquarters in London, and as such is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Skrill has a license to operate within the EU.

Skrill history

Skrill was founded as "Moneybookers" in 2001 by Daniel Klein and Benjamin Kullman. The Moneybookers website went online in April 2002, offering an online payment system and becoming Europe's first FCA-regulated eMoney issuer. By the beginning of 2004 Skrill had almost two million registered users, and by 2008 claimed to operate in all countries of the world, handling five and a half million accounts all across the globe.

In early 2007, Moneybookers was bought by the investment company Investcorp Technology partners for €105 million, and after two years Moneybookers was put up for sale by Investcorp with an asking price of €365 million. No sale was forthcoming, but in 2010 Investcorp put Skrill up for sale again, this time for €500 million.

In 2010 in the UK, The Sunday Times newspaper ranked Moneybookers as the fastest-growing private equity backed firm in the UK, and by the middle of 2012 Moneybookers now could boast over 25 million customers and 120,000 merchant accounts, mainly boosted by the acceptance of Moneybookers as a payment service by such internet giants as eBay, Facebook and Skype.

In 2011 Moneybookers announced that it intended to rebrand itself as "Skrill", which is a slang term for money, an abbreviated version of the term "Skrilla". Between 2011 and 2013 the company was known as "Skrill Moneybookers", with the "Moneybookers" aspect of the brand name being dropped totally in October 2013, by which time Skrill had been bought from Investcorp by the UK and Luxembourg based private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for €600 million. Also in 2013 Skrill acquired Paysafecard, Europe's leading online prepaid payment provider.

Skrill today

Skrill employs around 700 million people and has an annual revenue of €200 million. The company still has partnerships with Skype and eBay, as well as online bookmakers such as Bet365 and William Hill. Skrill has offices in the UK (London), Austria (Vienna), Sweden (Stockholm) and the USA (New York). There are over 36 million Skrill personal customers and 156,000 merchants all over the globe, and a Skrill account can be used in over 40 different currencies.

Since 2009 Skrill account holders have been able to apply for a Skrill Prepaid Mastercard, which allows them to pay for good and services at real-world outlets, and to withdraw money at nearly 2 million ATMs worldwide. The card is linked directly to a customer's Skrill account, and there are no overdraft facilities.



Neteller is an eWallet service that's owned and operated by the Isle of Man company Optimal Payments PLC. Neteller is the most popular method of transferring money to and from online gambling companies, and is the second-most popular eWallet transaction service in the world behind PayPal. As a payment system, Neteller is accepted across the world in almost two hundred countries, and it allows people to withdraw from and to fund their own bank accounts via Neteller's online payment system.

Neteller History

Neteller was created in 1999 in Canada, but changed location to the Isle of Man in 2004, falling under the jurisdiction of the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA), who list it as an "Authorised Electronic Money Institution." Under FSA rules, Neteller is required to maintain sufficient funds in trust accounts away from any operational costs, as a safeguard for its clients. If everyone withdrew all moneys from their Neteller accounts at the same time, Neteller must ensure that it has sufficient funds to meet all withdrawals.

Neteller was created in principle as a secure means of transferring money to and from gambling websites without the need to hand over bank account details, or credit card information. By the summer of 2000, Neteller processed payments for eight out of every ten online casinos, and 95 percent of the company's revenue came from processing transactions to and from customers and gambling websites.

The company suffered a huge blow in 2007 when the US crackdown on online gambling began to gather pace. Neteller suspended all accounts of US-based customers, and eventually closed them all, returning funds to each individual account holder. The company's revenues fell from around $240 million in 2006, to $44 million just four years later. The company also later banned people from Canada, Hong Kong, Israel and Macau from opening accounts with them.

Neteller Today

Signing up for a Neteller account is free, and is done via the company's website. Neteller transactions can be transacted in all major currencies, and accounts can be funded via a bank account or debit/credit cards, or other methods such as UKash and iDEAL. As well as using their accounts online to pay for goods and services, customers can withdraw cash via ATMs using the Net+ Mastercard, which can be also used as a normal debit card at real-world retailers.

There are numerous ways of funding a Neteller account, and most of them come with a fee, although some, like Euteller, iDEAL and POLi are free. The cost of funding a Neteller account from a Mastercard account can be anything between 1.9 and 4.95 percent, depending on the location of the account and any other aspects of the transaction that need to be considered. International Bank Transfers and Local Bank Deposits are free as well.

Neteller has two levels of account. The normal account is subject to typical fees, whereas the "Neteller VIP" account is offered to people who use their Neteller account to fund large amounts of money. Such customers enjoy lower fees and additional features than those with basic accounts.

Visa Debit

Visa Debit

Visa Debit is one of the major brand names in the world of personal financial transactions. Visa Debit cards are issued in countries all over the world, by banks and other institutions. Visa Debit cards allow customers to pay for retail items and services both in real-world stores and online, with the money for such products and services being drawn directly from their bank accounts. Payments can be refused if there are insufficient funds in the debit card user's account at the point of sale.

Visa Debit cards are usually multipurpose cards in that they allow users to withdraw funds from any ATM that bears the Visa logo as well as being used as a debit card.

Visa Debit history

Visa as a company was found in Fresno, California in 1958, as BankAmericard, part of Bank of America. To begin operations, the company mailed out 60,000 unsolicited credit cards, and by 1960 had saturated California with over two million cards. This turned out to be something of a disaster, as no less than 22 percent of the cards ended up being used fraudulently, costing Bank of America $20 million. In 1975 Bank of America allowed other banks to enter the BankAmericard scheme, under the new umbrella name "Visa". The word Visa was chosen as its a recognised word in many languages with a common definition.

Debit cards were not issued in the UK until 1987. The first Visa debit card was issued by Barclays Bank in June that year, as what was known as a "Connect" card. The National Westminster Bank followed suit a year later with the "Switch" card. Both cards were eventually merged under the Visa brand name.

For around a decade Visa Debit cards in the UK were known as "Visa Delta" cards. This branding was phased out in 1998, when all debit cards issued under the Visa brand name became referred to as Visa Debit cards.

In the United States, the uptake of Visa Debit cards was somewhat slower, with most merchant and businesses preferring to remain with the traditional cash or check system. Uptake of Visa Debit cards began to accelerate with the advent of chip and pin devices, which offer a more convenient and secure way of making payments for goods and services than checks.

Visa Debit today

Visa today has a net income of over $2.1 billion, and assets worth $40 billion.

Visa Debit cards remain the most popular debit cards in the world, with the Mastercard Maestro/Cirrus/debit card being their only serious rival. In Europe alone, there are an estimated 460 million Visa debit cards in circulation, and purchases made annually using Visa debit cards in Europe total around €1.8 trillion.

In the USA, around 430 million Visa Debit cards have now been issued, with an estimate annual spend of $1.1 trillion over nearly 30 billion transactions. Despite this, debit cards in the US only account for 2 to 3 percent of all non-cash transactions within the country in a year. Checks still contribute around 33 percent, and ACH (automated clearing house) transactions around 60 percent. The average debit card user in the US spends around $8,500 on debit cards transactions per year.