RISC World

Using BidPay

Mike Battersby

Regular readers of RISC World will be aware of the series of articles on eBay in earlier issues. The online auction site eBay provides a market for a wide range of items including Acorn/RISC OS products.

Whether you buy or sell on eBay you need a means of making or receiving payment for the items you have bought or sold. While methods such as Cheques are fine when someone in one country is buying from, or selling to, someone in the same country they are of little use for international payments and are anyway quite slow while money is cleared from cheque payments.

The last issue of RISC World looked at Paypal which is one of the most popular means of making international payments, allowing almost instant payment by means including credit cards but at a cost of commission fees.

This article looks at Bidpay, which is an alternative way of making payments. It operates quite differently from Paypal with both advantages and drawbacks in comparison.

Bidpay is a service of Western Union and is essentially an online method of sending money orders. To send money via Bidpay it is necessary to register but it is NOT necessary to register to receive money. Once registered then you can use a credit card to pay the amount due for the item you wish to purchase plus a fee which includes postage of the money order to the recipient by first class mail. You can pay extra for express mail if you wish.

Figure 1 (above) shows the standard fees for Bidpay at the time of writing. It may be advisable to compare these with the cost at a bank (£8 last time I sent one in the UK) and to watch out that over $100 the fee is a percentage plus a flat fee, which can add up. A bank fee is usually fixed whatever the amount.

Bidpay does also provide convenience, however, saving a trip to the bank and replacing it with a quick online transaction.

To make a payment you log in and get to the log in page shown below as figure 2:

Figure 2: Bidpay page when you have logged in.

From here you can change your personal info, check on previous or current transactions or click on "Place new order" to send a money order.

Figure 3 (above) shows the initial payment page. Note that first class mail in the US is said to take up to 10 days! Don't forget to include all extras such as postage, insurance, handling charges etc in the principal amount. Following the easy steps you arrive at the main payment page shown below as figure 4.

Here is where you enter all the important stuff (other than the amount). You can see that you need the seller's full address.

Once you have sent the money, a money order in US dollars is made out and sent the next business day to the recipient designated. That is, it is posted the next business day but may take much longer to actually arrive.

Once you have done it once the process becomes quite easy and relatively painless as well as being a lot quicker then arranging a money order through the bank. It is likely to be cheaper as well, particularly for small amounts.

For the auction seller who is receiving the money there are NO FEES, a distinct advantage over Paypal. However, if you are not in the US you are going to get a US dollar money order and may have to pay fees, or commission at your bank to pay it in or cash it, something it is advisable to check out. If you are in the UK you can now get an order in UK pounds but the sender is charged an additional fee of US$5 per order which can put off buyers if the overall fees get too high.

In summary

Bidpay provides an easy way to pay by credit card to send a money order in US dollars to any country in the world but because of possible exchange fees is most useful for sending payment to the USA.

There are fees for the sender but not for the recipient. Fees can add up for higher amounts and for having the order in UK pounds rather than US dollars. However, having an order in pounds avoids any exchange fees for UK based sellers when paying in.

This is a more limited service than Paypal but may be useful in certain circumstances. On the one occasion I used it, as the seller did not accept Paypal, I found it easy to use and effective but mainly because the seller was in the US.

Essentially it is another option for payment to consider. Personally I would probably only use if for smaller amounts to the US but for others the ability to buy from other locations, where sellers rarely accept Paypal, may be useful. Bidpay do try and help if the money order goes missing, something that cant happen with Paypal as the money is transferred straight from one account to another.

Mike Battersby