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Definition: Web payment service

An online service that manages the transfer of funds from one party to another. The money may come directly from a bank account or from a prepaid account or credit card maintained by the payment service.

As the Web took off in the late 1990s, many people were initially reluctant to divulge their credit card numbers. It was also believed that information would be widely sold for a few cents per article and there needed to be a payment service to accommodate tiny transactions (see micropayment). As a result, several payment systems emerged to make online payments more reassuring than credit cards. Most of them faded or evolved into parts of other financial systems (see Brodia, CyberCash, e-cash, eCharge, InternetCash, Qpass, iPIN and 1ClickCharge).

Today, PayPal, Venmo and Zelle are three major money transfer services. In addition, millions of e-commerce transactions on the Web are paid with MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express credit cards. See mobile payment service, PayPal, Venmo and Zelle.