Like so many other people, my first introduction to PayPal was by way of shopping around for useless garbage on eBay. To be fair, I also used the world’s largest garage sale as a means of selling some of my own junk, so I think we come out pretty even there. Years later, I use PayPal extensively to collect payments from my freelance writing clients, largely because of the relative convenience that the online service provides. It’s just so easy, because it (almost) doesn’t matter where the person is in the world; he can pay me through PayPal.
More recently, the service expanded with something called PayPal.Me. This isn’t completely separate from the main PayPal.com. Instead, it taps into the social media kind of mindset by allowing PayPal users to set up their own usernames and profile pages. Rather than having to send someone an invoice and rather than the sender having to know your exact email address, you can simply send a personalized link to your PayPal.Me profile page.
The structure is exactly the same as you find on so many other social media channels. And so, just as I can be found at twitter.com/michaelkwan, I got myself set up at paypal.me/michaelkwan. Here’s what that profile page looks like:
On the bright side, this is a really convenient way to ask for money from just about anyone. It can be used for your online business. It can be used to ask for the money your buddy owes you from last weekend. It can be used as a “tip jar” or “donation” destination on your blog. And you can fully customize this page by changing the background color, uploading a profile page, and writing a short profile description.
That’s all fine, except PayPal.Me is simultaneously so remarkably infuriating.
- You can’t change your name. Whatever is the name that is officially linked to your PayPal account (Michael Kwan – Beyond the Rhetoric, in my case), that’s what shows up on your PayPal.Me page. If you run multiple businesses or use different names, this just won’t do.
- You don’t get any details. When someone sends you money through your PayPal.Me page, you don’t get any of the finer information you would if you used a regular invoice instead. You don’t know why they’re paying you and for what. It’s just some new money in your PayPal account.
- You can’t set up a “thank you” page. If you plan on using PayPal.Me to collect payments from your website, you can’t automatically redirect people to your “thank you” page after they send payment. There’s no ability to ask them to join your mailing list or to provide them with a special “thank you” offer.
- You can’t set the default currency. Because I’m Canadian, my PayPal.Me page defaults to CAD. However, I charge the majority of my clients in USD. I can’t set that as my default. This is even more frustrating, since I can set the amount. Using paypal.me/michaelkwan/50 will pre-populate the amount to $50, but that’s $50 Canadian. I can’t use paypal.me/michaelkwan/50usd to “fix” that.
- You can’t set up subscriptions. PayPal.Me is for one-time payments only and, as mentioned, there’s no inclusion of any details. What’s more, you can’t use PayPal.Me for recurring payments either. If someone wants to pay you $50 every month, they have to send that manually every month if you give them your PayPal.Me page. If you want subscriptions, you have to do it the old-fashioned way through the main PayPal site.
- You can’t change your username. Once you’ve decided on the profile name for your PayPal.Me page (michaelkwan, in my case), you can’t change it. Ever. With most other social media channels, there is usually the option of changing your username (even if you have to jump through some hoops to get it, Facebook being the noted exception).
PayPal.Me has a lot of shortcomings and it’s possible that they will address at least some of these at some point in the future. Despite these problems, I’ll probably be using it as part of my overall set of online tools, even if I continue to use traditional invoicing for most of my clients.
If nothing else, I encourage you to grab your own PayPal.Me name as soon as you can. You wouldn’t want someone else to squat on your preferred profile name and, worse yet, you wouldn’t want someone to pose as you and collect money pretending to be you.