PayNearMe gives unbanked a new mobile payment option

April 25, 2012

One of the problems for "cash-preferred" consumers is that some transactions, for instance, airline tickets or online purchases, require an electronic payment method. Now U.S. consumers who choose to use cash have another mobile option to make electronic payments.

PayNearMe, a cash transaction network that markets to the under- and unbanked, announced its new mobile cash payment system, a product that lets those without credit or debit cards use their cash to make loan payments, pay bills or buy tickets.

To use the system, consumers select PayNearMe as a payment method when checking out online. A text message is sent to the consumer's phone containing a link to a barcode and instructions on how to pay at a participating store like one of 7-Eleven's 6,600 convenience stores. Once the customer pays at the store, the PayNearMe system links back to the merchant's systems to settle the outstanding amount. (A video demonstration is below.)

It's not as simple as entering a 16-digit account number, but for those who don't have (or don't want) a credit or debit card, it’s a workable solution. And unlike branded prepaid cards, the other option for cash-preferred consumers, there's no "breakage," the industry term for money that goes unused on a prepaid or gift card; a PayNearMe payment takes only the exact amount of a purchase.

PayNearMe is even making it easy for merchants to accept the payment method with shopping cart plug-ins and simple APIs for custom applications. And rates are similar to those charged by the card brands for interchange.

“Since its inception, PayNearMe has offered the most effective mechanisms for companies to serve cash consumers, including the un- and underbanked,” said PayNearMe CEO Danny Shader in an announcement. “By adding a fully mobile payment option to our platform, we’re not only providing businesses with the ability to better serve their existing customers, but we’re giving them a foundation from which they can expand to reach new audiences, such as mobile gamers and the next generation of consumers."

Some of the companies already accepting PayNearMe for cash-preferred customers include online retailer Amazon and Greyhound. Greyhound said it is now seeing 20 percent of its PayNearMe customers opting for the mobile tool.

“Our passengers represent a wide cross-section of the public, but the one thing they have in common is their smartphones,” said Dave Leach, President and CEO at Greyhound. “We want to make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase bus tickets, and PayNearMe’s new smartphone-enabled barcodes have given our passengers a great way to pay for their tickets using an indispensable part of their everyday lives.”

For more stories like this, visit the Money Transfer/P2P research center.

Topics: Bill Payment , In-App Payments , Mobile Payments , Money Transfer / P2P

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