Participants in online auctions use a variety of payment mechanisms, but checks and money orders still represent the most commonly used means of payment. Credit cards afford greater protection to buyers, but until recently payment by credit card was not even an option for person-to-person transactions. However, several online payment services have been established that enable individuals to make credit card payments to one another, generally with the payment service acting as an intermediary. These services are growing rapidly, mainly because of the speed and convenience that they offer. Yet relatively little attention has been paid to the risks and potential liabilities they involve for buyers and sellers. This Article compares online payment systems and similar intermediary services to traditional payment mechanisms in that context.
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