Peer-to-Peer Visa Payments Coming to the U.S.

Assuming this system works well, it will have an enormous impact on cash transfers — revolutionizing the way Americans dine out, the amount of cash we carry, etc. The friend who promises to pay you back when you’re out to eat but never actually does? He will need to come up with a new excuse. It’s amazing that this is the first time such a (useful) idea will potentially become widespread in the United States, as it already exists in other countries:

But our long national post-meal nightmare may be nearing an end. On Wednesday, Visa announced a new person-to-person payment system that could transform how we pay our babysitters, split our checks, and reimburse our friends. Starting in the second half of the year, users will be able to send money to any other Visa cardholder, regardless of where they bank or where they live. The sender need know only her recipient’s 16-digit account number, cell number, or e-mail address. Either the cash just shows up in the account linked to the recipients’ credit card, debit card, or prepaid card or the recipient gets a notice to OK the transfer.

I am definitely guilty of refusing to carry much cash around, preferring to use a debit card. This can be an inconvenience when you need to exchange cash with friends,  and when you’re shopping somewhere that is cash only or has a minimum purchase requirement to allow credit and/or debit cards.

There will be fees. But given that Americans already pay billions in annual ATM fees, its not clear that this will be any worse, and you won’t have to run and find the nearest ATM.