How to get paid online

Lyndi of Nice2All had left question in my Skribit widget “As a South African I cannot use PayPal to receive funds. Any suggestions?” As she knows I am in exactly same situation (except South Africa part) and being excluded from main financial loop online is far from convenient.

So how do you get paid online if common methods fail?



Photo by tao_zhyn


Some of methods covered here may be recipe for disaster, depending on your location. Do not try anything if you are not sure it is legal in your country and country you receive payments from. If you are not sure then go and consult someone who is.

White area

Simply put if something fails to work find alternative. Even if bulk of crowd does not bother with options beyond mainstream of PayPal and direct bank deposits – there is someone who does.

  • Payment by check. Quite common option of mailing check that you have to turn into cash at local bank that provides such service. It is often worldwide option (or at least where mail and banks reach) but process can be very time-consuming (weeks, months).
  • Western Union Quick Cash. Western Union mostly work with private non-commercial transfers but they have this option for businesses to send money to individuals (but not other businesses). Western Union has worldwide network (usually piggybacking on local banks) and transfers are fast (days).
  • Electronic payments. Boom of electronic payment systems has long passed and PayPal is one of the very few survivors on global scale. Still in come countries there are quite successful local payment systems and businesses may have agreements with them. Quite fast and convenient but unfortunately rare.

Grey area

There are often ways to bend rules a little. These methods are (usually) perfectly legal and moral but still may get you in trouble with companies who consider themselves to have final say about your money they hold. There are considerably more ways to get in trouble with these so consulting professional is necessary.

  • Using foreign accounts. If payment option is not available in your country then route it through country that is available. In case of PayPal that usually means finding foreign bank that is willing to open account for non-resident and provide debit/credit card for it.
  • Using third party companies. These are usually local companies than turn virtual currencies or checks into cash and take their cut for that. Quality and legal side varies greatly from large established companies to simple scams. But it can be very convenient if you have an option of reputable company. Otherwise be careful to not lose your money by putting them in wrong hands.

Black area

Some methods are from really questionable to completely not legal. These go beyond foreign accounts and into whole virtual identities.

I will not list options here because at this stage it would require way more effort and serious planning than I have experience about.

Just remember that if someone gets away with questionable methods that doesn’t mean you will.


While staying on safe side (good idea when money are involved) it is less about available payment methods and more about businesses that actually support those.

Make a list of payment options for you country and try to look up which of companies you want to work with who support these. Then go to alternative companies. And only then look for something that might exceed usual boundaries.

Do you make money online? What payment methods work for you?

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  • Lyndi #

    Wow, you went to a lot of trouble here. Thanks so much for this. You have given me a lot to think about. I have quite a bit of Googling to do after all this. I will let you know when I find something that works well. Talking about long waiting periods. Just yesterday I received a pin number from Google Adsense via the post. This is the pin that is necessary to verify your postal address. This pin number was posted more than two months ago. Maybe I should move!
  • Sjeltur #

    Remark with the payment possibilities; you have the western union one as a "white" one... BUT; you also have to look into "what possibilities do your customers have". For example; in Holland the Western Union one is absolutely NOT recommended and knows as payment way for companies who do fraud. So our local banks are recommending us to not use them.... Furthermore; some countries hardly use checks..... again Holland; in my whole life I only once touched a check.... at the company I work. So - this way will "scare away" a lot of customers.
  • Rarst #

    @Lyndi No problem. :) It took me ~3 weeks to get Google pin but I rarely check mail so it could be sitting in mailbox for week (or more). btw I don't remember but there is time limit on Google checks, if not cashed money are returned to AdSense account. Check it so you are sure check isn't useless by the time it reaches you with such speed. They are providing express delivery options in some countries. @Sjeltur I don't care about customers cause I don't have any. :) Local banks are often quite retarded. I have a bank who likes to block outgoing PayPal transactions claiming PayPal is "insecure". Even if checks aren't actively used banks can still handle them. It may take more time in such case but still it is better than nothing. And I think Holland is top of PayPal food chain with full suport and localized site. So don't complain. :)
  • shaam #

    You could try using something like http://www.xe.com/
  • Sjeltur #

    Nah - was also not worried about your customers... but about Lyndi's... ;) I know my bank would accept checks - BUT if I can buy something online and I can choose between a normal (online) banktransfer OR creditcard OR check = the check option is never going to win. This way the way you treat payments within your company - can be very important if customers start to compare.... - customers are not only looking at the product.... And I know; I do have a PayPal account also.... but we also have nice payments options like iDeal; would be nice if they could make that worldwide; http://www.magentocommerce.com/blog/comments/ideal-payment-gateway-available-through-magento-connect/
  • Rarst #

    @shaam Thanks for the link, will look into it. @Sjeltur I don't go into setting up your store and such. That it more likely to work locally and with payment options common for country. On worldwide scale it's pain, that's the root of "let's just work with PayPal" problem. My view is more about common stuff like advertising networks and other opportunities bloggers can sign up for.