Square Cash boosts mobile-payment battle

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Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 12:00 am

Online payment company Square has introduced a new service that makes it easy for users to send money to their friends using nothing but email or a smartphone application.

Square isn't the first company to release such a money transfer service, but Square Cash might be the simplest one to use yet.

Others in the market include Google Wallet, PayPal and Venmo. Here's how they compare.

Square Cash: Sending cash is as easy as sending an email. Users write the address for the person they want to pay in the recipient field, include cashsquare.com in the CC line, and write “$” followed to send in the subject line.

They'll get a reply from Square with a link to a page where they are asked for the information for the debit card they want to use to fund the payment. Once that's done, recipients will get a similar email asking for their debit card information, which Square Cash uses to transfer the funds to the recipient's bank account.

With Square Cash, there are no fees and funds are transferred directly between bank accounts, although it takes one to two business days. The service works with any email program. Apple and Android device users can download an app to make the process even easier.

Users can send up to $250 per week without giving Square anything but their debit card information. To send more, users have to provide their full name, phone number, date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security number. The weekly limit is $2,500.

Google Wallet: Earlier this year, Google also made it possible to send money by using Gmail and Google Wallet.

Users compose an email using the Gmail desktop website and click on the attachment option. Instead of attaching a photo, users click the dollar sign and are then prompted to enter the amount they want to send.

If users connect their Google Wallet account with their bank account, there is no fee. With a credit or debit card, there is a transaction fee of 2.9 percent of the payment.

Users who need to send a lot of money will like Google Wallet because it lets them send up to $50,000 within a five-day period.

The money can be sent to anyone, even those without Gmail, but to receive and withdraw the money, recipients must also have a Google Wallet account. Once the funds are received, recipients can withdraw the amount from Google Wallet and transfer it to their bank account. That usually takes two days.

Instead of email, iPhone, iPad and Android smartphone users can download and use the Google Wallet smartphone app.

Venmo: Social users may prefer Venmo, an app for Apple iOS and Android devices.

Venmo lets users send money quickly to their friends who are also using the app. Transfers are free as long as users connect their accounts with their bank accounts or debit cards. (Most debit cards are accepted.)

There is a 3 percent transaction fee for using a credit card. Users can send up to $3,000 per week using Venmo.

Once a payment is received, recipients can transfer it from their Venmo account to their bank account. Venmo said these withdrawals usually take one to two days. If somebody owes you money, Venmo can also be used to charge that person for it. That'll cause Venmo to notify your slow-paying friend that he or she owes you money.

When users send money, they can keep the transaction private, let friends on Venmo see the transfer or let everyone else on Venmo see it. Dollar amounts aren't disclosed but the reason for the payment, such as repayment for a meal or drink, is visible.

PayPal: If you've ever shopped online, you're probably familiar with PayPal. The online payment service can also be used to pay friends, through either its website or its smartphone app.

Users can both send and request money by typing in the email address of who owes or is owed a payment. Once the transaction is accepted, it goes through and is received on the other user's PayPal account.

Transfers are free if the sender's PayPal account is connected to his or her bank account. If not, a debit or credit card must be linked to the account and there is a fee of 2.9 percent per transaction plus 30 cents.

PayPal users can send up to $10,000 per transaction. However, they can withdraw only $500 a month from their accounts.

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