Yes, We’re Sorry About the PayPal

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Another fundraiser but the same old moral dilemma. Donating $5, $50, $500, or whatever you can give makes a difference to this community. If you’ve been generous enough to have kindly supported Naked Capitalism by making a donation via our Tip Jar, you’ll already have seen the option to click on the Orange Buttons of Doom (when I was briefly involved in website design at my Too Big To Fail bank, the agency we had at the time referred to them disparagingly but correctly as “lollipop sticks”) that allows you to make your payment through PayPal.

If you’ve not already given, then yes, Naked Capitalism does offer the facility to donate (or subscribe) via PayPal which is the only channel for card payments if you don’t want to mail a check. If you do send a check (and those instructions are in the Tip Jar too), please tell Yves at yves@nakedcapitalism. Put “Check is in the mail” in the subject line and tell her how much is en route so she can include your contribution in her running tally.

Some readers are neutral or ambivalent about using PayPal but many are, understandably, not exactly thrilled at that being the only option for making a card payment. That last group includes myself, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. We’ve even featured fully justified shreddings of PayPal’s poor business practices here on Naked Capitalism (Wolf Richter’s excellent diatribe being my personal favourite) so why do we put up with it?

The sad fact is, PayPal is a microcosm of just the kind of problems in big finance and economics, regulation and markets, and the difficulties in trying to strike a balance between allowing and rewarding innovation but preventing abuse from resultant monopolies, that Naked Capitalism covers on a daily basis.

Let’s start with the basics. The ability for Naked Capitalism to take, and readers to make, card payments, such as for our fundraiser, is convenient — for a variety of reasons.  You, the reader, like card payments because they are simple, quick and secure. There’s no check to write, envelope to post, or risk of anything getting lost or delayed in the mail. And card payments save Yves from having to bank a load of checks and reconcile the donations with the addresses to reply back to, to acknowledge receipt and make sure you get a well-deserved  “thank you.” Big finance likes to talk about innovation but scarcely ever delivers it. Well, card payments and ecommerce are genuinely one example of something that makes life easier for everyone. I would add “lower cost,” but by the time the various industry players have taken their cuts, the cost advantage is most certainly not as good as it could be. But we’ll let that pass for now.

And for us non-U.S. readers, card payments mean that I can make my donations in U.S. dollars even though I may have a sterling, euro or Australian dollar (or whatever) denominated account. While I can rightly complain about high fees from my bank for financial services, it is undeniably a non-standard and fairly labour intensive process for my bank to draw up a U.S. dollar check for me. Whether it quite justifies the £10 charge levied is another matter, but on the sort of small-ish payment value we’re talking about here, it is clearly sub-optimal — and that’s before we get to the cost of international postage (another £ or two).

So, Naked Capitalism has to offer the facility to take card payments for donations. But more than that, there are some other requirements which stem from the constraints which Yves is working under in trying to keep this particular show on the road. These arise from a lack of time for admin, the need to have a minimum technical knowledge or overheads to implement the card payment facility, and the risk that even the smallest glitch or problem — however legitimate the cause — can snowball into something that could take hours and hours of Yves’ time to resolve, time which simply isn’t available. I’ll list here the deal-breakers for any card payment processor and the nice-to-haves. If you start, while reading this list, to think “purple squirrel,” you’re not alone.


  • Work with WordPress, be a drop-in tech-free solution
  • Offer billing summaries and reconciliation to donations
  • Have hassle-free, reliable support (both technical and for payments)
  • Not cause any big problems for readers donating (incorrect deductions, any kind of scamming)
  • Be a one-stop-shop solution, not needing to interface to anything else
  • Fair fee structure (across all services, not just on the initial transactions)


  • Be trustable by readers
  • Be an ethical, non-exploitative company
  • Not be a monopoly or oligopoly or, if they are, they don’t abuse that market dominance

Before this year’s fundraiser, I really racked my brains for a platform that would meet Yves’ requirements list above. Keep in view that I have spent my entire life in finance in one way or another, the last 20 years in consumer credit and most of that has been in the field of credit/debit cards, card payment acquiring, merchant services, and payments infrastructure. Frankly, if I didn’t know of something that did all that was needed — and was as a minimum a bit better behaved than PayPal — then it didn’t exist.

In short, there are no saints in this market (ecommerce card payment acquiring), only sinners who exhibit varying degrees of sin. And with PayPal, at least they daren’t be too awful in terms of helping site owners with admin or in the case of a query that needs resolving. They are, loathed though I am to say it, the least-worst.

By way of a worked example, one well-informed source pointed us in the direction of Stripe. But as it turned out, Stripe has exactly the same business model as PayPal (they are an acquirer of payments from debit/credit cards. They are also a merchant: their “product” is in effect buying and selling money, providing a billing and management service plus a way of letting customers set their card details up in one place and then use them without anything more than a single login). How they describe their services though is a masterpiece of vagueness, it was only when I looked at the nitty-gritty of their technical documentation that I was able to figure out what, exactly, they did. It’s like on their marketing pages, they don’t want to give the game away that they’re just another PayPal wannabe and not doing anything that PayPal doesn’t already do.

Their fee structure is comparable-to-slightly-worse than PayPal (headline transaction fees being similar, some extra graft on the unavoidable add-ons such as chargebacks handling Stripe is $15 c/w $14 for PayPal).

The only advantage I can see with Stripe is that it doesn’t come with the brand baggage that, rightly, afflicts PayPal.

In terms of whether Stripe is a nicer company than PayPal, I can’t see anything to justify that. From their website’s boasting:

“Stripe’s investors include Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Elon Musk.”

Ooh, some of my most favourite squillionaires. Lovely people. If you’ve not heard of Sequoia Capital, as Yves recounted:

“Even by the standards of [Venture Capital] firms, Sequoia is a really problematic actor, They are a standout in refusing to engage in basic standards of transparency. And even though their flagship fund outperforms… drumrolll… investors don’t get that return even though they brag about it. They are required to invest in other Sequoia funds as the price of being allowed to get past the velvet. The blended returns are not even remotely special.”

Bad though all that looks (and is!), I could give you 10 similar ecommerce payment services providers who are far, far, worse than Stripe just off the top of my head. Pilfering your customer’s data (and then selling that data on to competitors), junk fees, junk and forced-placed insurance — insurance against the egregious fees charged by the payment processor, if you can believe it — laughable security at the back-end systems, non-existent customer service, non-implementation of the card schemes’ minimum technical requirements (so your card gets declined because it is a newer standard and the card issuer fails it when the payment processor submits non-compliant authorisation messages), impenetrable contracts, vaguely specified jurisdictions, and that’s just for starters.

Some are so bad, the Too Big To Fail card issuers will put them on a bad-boy list and decline any incoming transactions from those companies. You, the reader, end up just being stuck there not knowing why your card payment hasn’t gone through, and Yves gets all manner of headaches in trying, most likely failing, to get to the root cause. And that’s before we get to the sinking pit of despair induced by incorrectly processed or charge-back’ed transactions.

If readers do though have any bright ideas after reading the above (and do please take particular care to review the requirements lists) then please let me know in the Comments section. I do still, in spite of myself, believe in miracles. Until then, yes, we’re really – really – sorry about the PayPal.

But we hope that will not deter you from giving, particularly now that you know all those friendlier-seeming alternative really aren’t. So please ive whatever you can, whether it’s $5, or $5000, yes, via the Tip Jar, which tells you how to donate by check, credit, or debit card.

Or you can send a check made out in the name of “Aurora Advisors Incorporated” to:

Aurora Advisors Incorporated
903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10075

And if you send a check, tell Yves at yves@nakedcapitalism. Put “Check is in the mail” in the subject line and tell her how much is en route so she can include your contribution in her running tally. And get back to her day job of making life hard for all these rentiers.

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  1. Pavel

    I sent a check last time and derived special pleasure by funding the peerless NC without giving Paypal any commission.

    1. Clive

      Thanks, we already investigated Stripe and it was no better than PayPal (see my summary of findings in the article above). But I’ll look at Square.

  2. PhilU

    Have you looked into Venmo? They don’t take credit cards but there is no fee from checking to checking. No clue on the specifics though.

    1. Clive

      Yes, and ruled them out through numerous pretty well proven security issues

      I keep them under review but they’d need to demonstrate several years of trouble-free operations before I’d give them a clean bill of health.

      And I really don’t like the way they drive users into installing an app. That is completely unnecessary for card acquiring and makes me wonder why, the most obvious reason is that an app gives much better snooping capabilities. PayPal snoops but at least they document how they snoop (although of course I don’t believe they are totally candid on that one either.)

    2. Jack Parsons

      Where Venmo as an app shines is:
      another app that scans a restaurant check and parses it out. You assign all items to different guests, split the tax, then ask all guests for their correct share through V.

      Voila! Restaurant tab wars are done. Blew me away when a friend demoed it.

  3. Paul Tioxon

    A note on the moralism which afflicts the citizenry of the left and I guess the right as well, but I don’t know what bothers them as much. Certainly, everyone hates the bankers, the money changers, the usurers, going way back before left or right was gleam in Karl Marx’s eye.

    A simple point I would like to make, not an exhaustive line of argumentation, but an appreciation of relieving ourselves of the heavy burden of being systematically consistent from the rock solid foundations of our political analysis. At this point in time, global capitalism, systemic risk, the Anthropocene era, all speak to the universal extensiveness of reach of human social activity. The Spaceship Earth has been re-imagined as a wholly dominated planet by the impact of one species, humanity. You could mark that July day in 1969, when an astronaut standing on the moon looked back upon the earth as just something else humanity had transcended in its evolution and saw not nature’s home of all of the creatures of the land, of the sea and of the air. But Spaceship Earth.

    David Harvey during a lecture tour would join in with Occupy protesters and one particular thing he would bring up, was some of the personal conflict as well as outside criticism of someone whose living was dependent on the system. Well, he pointed out, if we are discussing the systemic nature of global financial risk, transnational and international social organizations, and the global nature of neo-liberalism extensive reach into the former Soviet Union as well as Communist China, Viet Nam etc, where exactly can you go to make a stand outside of what is clearly “Systemic”. A system may not have the reach around the world to most places you could go to live and earn a living. But by the nature of what we analyze and call systemic, there really can be no place to go outside of systemic conditions.

    So this is a call to go a little easier on one another, not on the relentless analysis to where ever it takes us. Our analysis of the systemic nature of finance and its political implications and direct consequences does not need to be a reason for guilt, an excuse for a personal attack that is just belaboring the obvious. I am glad to have Yves take the time to be crystal clear about her use of Paypal, which I use to donate. The world we want to live in is not here yet, and the tools that we have to build that world are from the way things are right now. And some of those tools, such as credit unions or other institutions may leave a lighter footprint. I try to use them as much as I can, and then use paypal or whatever else I use to pay bills, or send money or do online stuff. But whatever routine you can set up that looks reasonable and functions securely should not stress you out any more than needs be.

      1. Olivier

        Except that the comment about the Anthropocene and how humanity has “transcended in its evolution” is completely bonkers.

    1. STEPHEN V

      Yes Paul. I too appreciate the comment. That’s twice this week Harvey’s name has come up. Never heard of him until now. Will check him out.
      IIRC, Goethe said we can think outside of Nature, but we cannot BE outside of Her.

    2. PWF

      “going way back before left or right was gleam in Karl Marx’s eye.”

      This is bad history. “Left” and “right” originate with the French revolution. See

      Common usage of “left” and “right” as political terms in the U.S. has become rubbish, being used to denote liberalism vs. conservatism, communism or socialism vs. capitalism, etc. as reflected in the atrocious Wikipedia article that attempts to explain the unexplainable — the current garbage that passes for U.S. political labels. I’ve long suspected that current usage is an incomprehensible morass resulting from someone(s) deliberate attempts at disinformation and propaganda. I don’t know how else people end up thinking terms originating with the royalist/republican fight of the French Revolution becomes a dichotomy attributed to Marx.

  4. JustAnObserver


    I suspect you/Yves must have already considered/rejected this but … what about allowing direct online transfers from an NC reader’s bank a/c to an Aurora Advisors one ? Problems with international payments coming from – say – Kazakhstan ?

    1. flora

      Can’t speak for anyone but myself,…. Pretty sure I wouldn’t want to give out my bank account number and transaction info to all and sundry – even for a segregated, special purpose bank account. And that’s before you get to the question of various banks/govts eyeballing private international bank transfers.

      1. Clive

        Yes, and you’re not being paranoid — there’s no dispute process for when someone just decides to shove money in your account even if you didn’t want to receive it from that source.

    2. Clive

      That does seem simplest initially but having done this myself (I am the treasurer for a charity) it is arduous. What you end with is a bank statement with maybe a name on it that you can reconcile against an email, or then again maybe not. And then you have to try to pick these out from among all of the other entries going through an account. But what PayPal (and to be fair, other similar services) do is allow you to set up a dedicated “bucket” to accept contributions from a particular source for a particular purpose and then transfer the net proceeds in one single transaction so you don’t spam the bank account with hundreds of individual entries.

      And it still doesn’t fix the problem of non-U.S. readers not being able to send non-USD denominated payments. My bank changes £15 for non-sterling wire transfers which isn’t economic for small donations. And if I sent sterling or (€’s or Aus$ etc.) then Yves will get hit with hideous fees for processing these. Exposing your ACH routing details isn’t risk-free, people can exploit this information as unfortunately you can make yourself a target for deliberately malicious “donations”.

    3. Yves Smith

      It costs $40 or so per transfer for international and about $25 for domestic. The people sending us money would give up a ton in the transaction costs. And it is an enormous hassle to do a wire transfer. For a wire to Citigroup, we had to go to the branch in person and give tons of information about the recipient, like their address, the address of their bank branch, and their bank branch’s phone number! Even the customer service people at Citigroup found it hard to come up with branch details that went with the inbound wire account. The anti-money-laundering rules make it extremely cumbersome. Now my bank may be overkill, but it’s never been sanctioned for money laundering, so many readers may encounter similar onerous procedures.

      1. olga

        At least for US payments, if one has bank acc info – I can use my online banking to make a payment to anyone (for no cost – like paying one’s electric bill). In fact, the recent change at one of the credit unions online banking specifically added person-to-person payments. (In Canada, the ability to transfer money to a person by email has been around for at least 10 yrs.) Also, have you looked into International payments are a different matter (although, ironically, HSBC is one of the easiest to use for this purpose.)

        1. Clive Post author

          Thanks olga, you raise some interesting points there.

          First off, yes, banks offer the facility to make account-to-account transfers (via either the online or telephony channels) which is useful for managing your personal finances. But it doesn’t scale for something like managing Naked Capitalism’s reader contributions.

          For your own checking account, it’s very convenient if, say, you owe your friend $50 and want to pay them back. You’d send them the money to their checking account, tell them it had been sent, they’d look and confirm they’d got the funds. It’s fine for those simple transactions because for a personal account, you won’t have many credit entries, you know what amount you’re looking for and so long as it is roughly the right date, you can confirm it’s been received.

          But if you’ve got hundreds of payments coming in – often for a range of common amounts like $25 or $100 or such like – it becomes tricky-to-impossible to reconcile those to notifications from individual donors. Usually on the bank statement all you will have by way of information is an abbreviated account name from the sender. It may not even be the same as the details of the person who said they’d send you a contribution because it wouldn’t be an email address. But if you send a check, you’ll have a return address and often a line or two covering who it is from.

          Why is this important ? There is a huge difference between managing your own personal finances and managing any kind of non-personal account. For activity going through a personal checking account, there’s a lot of leeway about what won’t attract any attention (the bank’s anti-money laundering tripwires, the tax authorities, state regulators etc.) if a few occasional payments start coming in from a couple of sources. But if you have a non-personal account and this isn’t your own personal finances then you never – ever – want to be in a position of having to explain entries to your account that you can’t provide some documentation for. The odd $20 check where it just arrived in an envelope is fine, but if there’s hundreds or even thousands of dollars being deposited with no documentation about who sent the money and why, it could land you in a heap of bother – and you’re dangling with no real explanation to provide. This is the sort of thing which leads banks to force-close an account. That is as a minimum hugely disruptive and at worst instant death to any non-personal organisation. It is an unacceptable risk to run.

          That’s the reason why if you use account-to-account payment services to, for example, pay a utility, the utility requires you to put some identifiable reference number on the payment (your account number maybe). If you don’t provide this but submit a payment which isn’t traceable, then the (in this instance) utility can’t just decide to pay the money into their customer receipts ledger and say to themselves, never mind, we’ll pocket the cash anyway. They have to put it in a suspense account or equivalent and, if they can’t trace the customer who sent it to pay their account, return it to the payee’s bank.

          With PayPal, and it does rather pain me to say it, you can rely on their customer identification and verification as well as their assurances about clean sources of funds. Or to be a little more cynical about it, If someone is remitting dubiously sourced money, that is PayPal’s problem, not Yves to sort out.

          Plus of course, account-to-account transfers is no help whatsoever for non-U.S. readers wanting to make contributions.

          The second point you raise is around Patreon. This initially sounded so promising. But it didn’t take long to uncover some absolute horror stories about this service. Worst by far was the leak of pretty much their entire database into the public domain

          Now, I am the first to start scathing away about PayPal but they’ve never (at least anything that has become publicly known) had serious data breaches. And this isn’t an ephemeral or bigged-up concern. Naked Capitalism gets information from and is read and supported by sources for whom their personal information security is not something to be toyed with. Political and industry insiders need to know that their identities can’t be uncovered by simple drive-by hacks. Using a payment services provider who doesn’t take information security serious would be a big disservice to readers and contributors. It cannot be treated as a trivial concern. Yves totally gets that, and that’s why we trust her.

          To use myself as an example, I have to — reluctantly — remain anonymous because that allows me to provide finance industry information without needing to worry about potentially career-harming blowback. I’d be feeling not a little exposed if PayPal compromised even the Naked Capitalism donor’s list. But worse-case, I’d at least have someone worth suing (PayPal) to try to get some redress.

          It’s probably legitimate to say that Naked Capitalism makes some enemies and there’s precious little Yves can do to prevent a state-actor level surveillance or data gathering operation. But sticking to proven suppliers of services who haven’t messed up big time with their data security is a must-have.

          1. Yves Smith

            I have to add that all these transactions would kill us from an accounting perspective. NC already pays 4% of its gross revenue for bookkeeping, accounting and tax prep. It’s so costly because 1. bookkeeping in general is very costly in the US (anyone any good is $60+ an hour) and 2. mine is much more epensive because I have my accountant/tax preparer do it to make me as bulletrproof as possible in event of an audit (having it all under one roof prevents the accountant and bookkeeper from pointing fingers at each other) and you pay a big premium to have the accountant effectively eat a lot of tax prep liability.

            Even with the bookkeeper downloading my bank statements, the cost of reconciling them goes up with the number of transactions. One transfer from PayPal is a totally different proposition than a zillion itty bitty transactions in my bank account.

            1. John Zelnicker

              @Yves – Off topic, but thank you for confirming that my bookkeeping fees are reasonable ($50/hr., and I’m very good :-)).

          2. Olivier

            I find you very severe with Patreon. I googled extensively for horror stories and could find only teething troubles. As for the breach, it takes only one mistake to make the news so we are effectively extrapolating about a single data point. The info that transpired is not that bad: it wasn’t shoddy coding in the production web site that got them in trouble but a rogue developer putting up a rogue debug site (I call it rogue because I can’t imagine anyone giving informed consent to what he did) and frankly, esp, in Silly Valley with its tight job market, that’s hard to prevent. On the production site it looks like they followed best practices (encryption of data at rest, bcrypt hashing of passwords etc).

            1. Clive

              Sorry, this is outrageous handwaving. The hackers managed to scrape — and then decrypt! — their entire database. But you’re happy to let them off the hook because, hey, never mind it was only a one-off.

              Kind-a like saying that you’re happy to fly with an airline that had been found to be skimping on maintenance and one of their planes fell out of the sky one day as a result but, well, that’s okay, you’re totally fine with that because they were just a bit unlucky and everyone has some teething troubles now and again.

              If that really is what you think, then I’m sure that Hillary Clinton has a job opportunity for you open, looking after her email server.

              1. Olivier

                I didn’t count the breach as a teething trouble: I just couldn’t find horror stories besides the breach. And as for the breach, again it was not a case of writing shoddy production code. What happened there could happen to any small company where developers are given a lot of leeway. If that risk is unacceptable to you then you have to stick with large companies with lots of procedure and hope their monitoring is tight and everything is locked down, hence no startups and especially no Silicon Valley startups.

                But anyway Patreon uses PayPal and Stripe in their back-end and you can (and do) use those directly, so you don’t need Patreon.

  5. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Clive, you are a vast repository of knowledge – like other NC writers and commenters, I’m always amazed at how you can lay out ‘how this sh!t actually works’.
    Thanks vastly.

    1. Clive

      (Clive does a typically English embarrassed shrug and mumbles “oh, it’s nothing really, no need to make a fuss”)

      The part that worries me is that I know even half this stuff anyway :-)

    1. Clive

      My view is that, if I’m running an ugly competition, I’d say that ApplePay is less horrid than PayPal so you’d think it’d be worth setting up. But then I’d land Yves on the big snake of having to maintain two payment options because not everyone would be eligible to use ApplePay so you’d have a user base that would end up defaulting to PayPal anyway. While a lot of card issuers support ApplePay some don’t so if you’ve only one or two cards available — especially if they’re from the same non-ApplePay supporting issuer — you’d be stuffed if Naked Capitalism only offered ApplePay.

      Thanks for the lateral thinking though — I’ve given myself brain ache considering this one and I’ve had loads of seemingly plausible solutions that end up with unlivable-with niggles when you really go through them.

      1. Anonymous

        Also, my understanding is that Apple Pay isn’t a payment processor in itself, it’s effectively just a digital credit card terminal. You still need a merchant processor (whether something like Stripe, who supports it, or an actual merchant account from a bank) to use it.

        Sadly, the best the US banking system has to offer for electronic person-to-person payments is these stupid middlemen who all want to take their cut. I made a smaller donation to Lambert’s fundraiser and used PayPal, just for the simplicity, but felt bad about it afterwards. This time, I decided to send a check just to avoid the rent-seekers in between.

    1. Yves Smith

      I don’t want bitcoin. I might as well be paid in wampum. It’s not of any use in paying anything I spend money on (my tech vendors, site writers, travel costs, other site costs not included in this fundraiser like my connectivity, accounting and bookkeeping, legal). And it has all kinds of tax hassles on top of that. Plus keeping personal property on a hard disk isn’t such a hot idea either. I have had hard disk crashes where I lost all the data and my backup had some disk corruption too.

      1. none

        You could collect through something like bitpay. They receive the bitcoin, convert it to cash after taking a tiny cut (smaller than paypal from what I hear), and pay you by traditional means with tax reporting–you never handle actual bitcoins. I don’t have a particular one of those services to recommend (I don’t use bitcoin myself) but there are several of them that are considered ok. I know lots of internet server hosts use them and are happy.

        1. Clive Post author

          If your expenses are is (as here) US$ and your incoming resources are also in US$ then you really don’t want to be introducing “currency risk” with anything like Bitcoin. Sure, sometimes you can gain — but equally well, sometimes your losses are painful. When I earned JPY but still had outgoings in GBP, I did on occasions end up with 10-15% hits to real income. And that is with a stable, widely traded, deeply liquid currency pair. Naked Capitalism can’t afford to spend a day at the racetrack betting on the horsies.

          1. none

            Those “incoming resources” in this case are donations, which aren’t exactly predictable anyway. But I believe those conversion places do the transaction at the dollar value of the btc when the payment is first made. They deal with the downside or take the upside themselves, which evens out in the end for them and keeps things simple for you.

  6. griffen

    I’d bet you could post a few columns on the leviathans that dominate the global payment systems (ACH, cards, EFT and so on).

    I’m moderately happier donating on PayPal, and it’s an infrequent occurrence for myself to begin with.

  7. robnume

    Thank you guys so much for this post. Been with NC since day one and I would like to contribute what I can, which is precious little, as I’m pretty poor. I will be sending you a postal money order, which is better than a check and beats the hell out of electronic payment processing “services.” I have boycotted PayPal for years. I don’t like those no good-niks. They contribute nothing to society and have far too much power over people these days. They are a big part of the problem and frankly I’m waiting to see them go down in flames. Fradenschreude is so underrated. Thanks again to the whole NC crew for all of your hard work and for the thought that goes into what you print for us.

  8. DJG

    Clive: Interesting post. I have to admit, though, that I like your observations of Japanese culture better.

    Meanwhile: It may be a good idea to stick with PayPal for the simple reason that it teaches a lesson: Personal characteristics do not exonerate a person’s politics. So, unfortunately the personal may not be the political.

    Peter Thiel is the perfect example. Dubious immigrant with quasi-fascist tendencies. Yet he is gay–so he must be “progressive” and “disruptive,” right? Well, no. So we can keep PayPal here at Naked Capitalism to remind us that only the political is the political. And one must have public and political stances in a republic. (We can also recall Gloria Steinem’s attempt to blur the personal and political conveniently and weirdly about how droves of Bernie Sistahs were only Bernie-ing because of the alluring scent of Bernie Bro man musk. I detect another career creaking into oblivion.)

    Meanwhile, I’m preparing to send a check. I like paper. I like the U.S. Postal Service. And the new Star Trek commemorative stamps are darn groovy.

    1. Yves Smith

      I think the real point is different. When you are in a compromised system, it’s pretty much impossible to be 100% clean. Look how anyone in an advanced economy can’t help being a contributor to global warming. All you can do is take steps to make yourself less of a part of the problem. And if everyone actually did that, it would make a big difference.

  9. Some Guy

    This dilemma seems strange to me. Writing from Canada, for many years now if you wanted to send someone money, you just do it by email. You can’t do this in the United States? Sometimes I wonder if the size of the U.S. is a disadvantage in the sense that it allows the country to fall behind the rest of the world without realizing it.

    This seems to manifest in ways from the smallest to the biggest, from still using the penny and Imperial measure to when I saw Calculated Risk celebrating the fact that life expectancy in the U.S. was still rising a few months back – and in the original post and hundreds of comments, not a mention of how far and how fast U.S. life expectancy has fallen behind the rest of the world.

    I see a lot of comments about U.S. airports as they compare to the rest of the world, but here it is hard to miss – you fly directly from one to the other – and of course, compared to other developed countries, Americans are much less likely to fly (or travel) abroad – again due to the size of the country.

    Not saying the rest of the world is so incredible, just that lack of size means you notice what others are doing more, and this has benefits in some areas.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @Some Guy – While size may indeed be a factor, another reason we fall behind in the US is that we are so *Exceptional* that we refuse to acknowledge and/or adopt the ideas and systems developed in other countries that could improve our general welfare and standards of living. Examples include your Medicare system and the fact that we are only now adopting the chip-embedded credit cards that have been used in Europe and other places for many years. And, the latter is only because other countries were beginning to refuse to accept our non-chipped cards.

  10. paul

    I don’t understand the need for any apologies, paypal works and it is hardly the root of financial evil, more an unattractive,invasive flower/weed.

    NC is here to inform, not reform.

    that is all they can hope to do

    I’m glad they hope

    m pesa anyone?

  11. Pinhead

    TRANSFERWISE, I use it to make international transfers almost every day. I get the best rates, only 1-2 days between debit and credit, the, lowest fee (1%) and a friendly user interface.

    1. Olivier

      Transferwise is a big fail on accounting. There’s usually no way to know who remitted the money. Even for smallish personal transactions between acquaintances it’s a hassle, never mind in the context of a fundraiser.

  12. safety

    anybody know any good program or way t delete all the spyware etc paypal is planting on your computer?

    1. Yves Smith

      Everyone is planting spyware. If you think PayPal is different or special in this regard you need to wake up and smell the coffee. Google and your ISP are watching you all the time as it is.

  13. Kirk Hartley

    At a gathering of social causes, invite Bezos, Gates, Zuckerberg, and Brin to create a “no fee” service that serves only approved causes. There must be a staggering aggregate amount lost each year to fees – for all charities.

    Also, push the big banks to create a joint effort. Some have semi-useful programs.

    Maybe Wells Fargo would like to further atone for some of its many sins :)

  14. amy

    Gravity Payments? In Seattle. The young CEO is committed to raising the salaries of all of his employees to at least $70,000/year. No idea if they meet the rest of your requirements.

  15. Oregoncharles

    FWIW, I can tell you the Green Party uses PayPal despite serious political problems with them, for essentially the same reasons. Political parties are required to account for donations over a certain amount – for instance, we need the donor’s industry affiliation.

    It’s unfortunate PayPal is a monopoly, and there should be a business opportunity there. I remember at least one was recommended when PayPal cut Wikileaks off, but I don’t remember the name and I suspect they’ve gone under.

    It’s likely PayPal should be regulated as a utility, at least in the sense that banks are. Of course, that’s true of a lot of financial enterprises.

    So I’ll just drop a check in the mail. There’s something comfortingly old-fashioned about it.

  16. Jack Parsons

    Also, have you considered an Amazon wish list? It’s not cash, but some things are necessities to your work, like a Financial Times subscription.

  17. toxymoron


    I am not able to participate in this year’s fundraiser.
    Fail1. Paypal knows my card number (as I have been participating in this fundraiser for a number of years now), and won’t allow me to make a donation without a Paypal ‘account’ (name, adress, email, phone..).
    They didn’t need these data in the past, don’t need them know (except to build a profile), and I am not willing to hand them out. I tried, as usual, setting up a bit of fake data, but it knows my (real) email address, so that failed. Hence a created a profile with as much fake data as possible, and hurray, a fake account.
    Fail2. Paypal is not convinced my credit card is real. So they transfer 1.5€ from it, with a PIN, and ask me to enter the pin. That took 2 more days, but hurray again, my credit card is accepted.
    Fail3. I cannot use my credit card to make payments. I need to transfer money out of my bank account into my paypal account, which will then transfer to NC. So now they need to see my bank account details, which again I am not willing to give.

    I had the same issue with someone else’s fundraiser, and that person was kind enough to hand over his bank account details. But I understood from Clive’s and Yves’ comments that this is not an option. And I don’t have another credit card.

    So unless somebody has an idea, I have xx dollars waiting for Yves & team, but no way to hand over the money :(

    [Apologies for reposting here. Also on Links 10/17/2016]

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