A growing number of companies are giving
consumers the chance to log onto the Internet and find an e-mail
saying the equivalent of "You've got money."
Bank One, the fourth-largest U.S. bank holding company with
assets of $256 billion, entered the emerging field Wednesday, formally
announcing its eMoneyMail service.
The Chicago-based company hopes to get the jump on other
financial institutions in an area it says has huge potential not
only for person-to-person payments but for companies sending
rebates or refunds to their customers.
"(E-mail payment) is the coming thing," said Robert Sterling,
financial services analyst for New York-based Jupiter
Communications. "It's important to get in on the ground floor."
Bank One is entering a field dominated since its inception late
last year by X.com Corp. and PayPal.com, which X.com is in the
process of acquiring. The combined company, still called X.com, has
made its mark helping buyers and sellers on sites such as eBay more
easily complete their transactions.
While many companies and even the U.S. government wire money
back and forth on a regular basis, person-to-person electronic
transactions are much more rare. Under eMoneyMail.com, anyone in
the United States with a checking account or a Visa card can send
or receive up to $500 in cash at a time.
Here's how it works:
The sender goes to www.emoneymail.com and chooses whether to pay
by Visa credit card, Visa debit card or checking account. He then
specifies an e-mail address for the receiver and the amount to be
The receiver gets an e-mail message that money has been sent,
clicks on an attachment with a link to the eMoneyMail site and
indicates which of four possible ways she wants to be paid the
three cited above or paper check sent by surface mail.
The sender pays a $1 fee for each transaction; the receiver pays
$1 only if a check is requested.
The money would become available the next business day at the
earliest, Bank One officials said. But they said research indicates
consumers won't use it mainly to get cash, instead using it as a
secure, convenient way to make payments to others.
While X.com's service is similar, Bank One claims that its name
as well as its 128-bit encryption the highest commercially
available Internet security standard provide an extra measure of
security and confidence that should help attract customers.
The founder and chairman of Palo Alto, Calif.-based X.com, Elon
Musk, said his company is already entrenched enough to fend off
Bank One's challenge. He said 128-bit encryption doesn't make a
meaningful difference in security and most browsers don't even work
with 128-bit encryption.
Besides, he noted, X.com charges no fee.