Credit Basics 101
What You Need To Know About Credit

Move on, Credit Cards

Banks and other entities with interest on credit cards often like waxing lyrical on the supposed many and manifold benefits the cards bring to the holder. And they have not been unsuccessful.

The major credit card holders (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) handle transactions of over US $6 trillion each year, according to The Economist magazine, and more than a third of American adults hold at least one credit card. But now it may be the time to move on from the cards.

Online payment systems are beginning to catch on. And mobile phones operators are also giving the payment market a long and hard look (Safaricom, a mobile operator in East Africa, already allows subscribers to send money to third parties by using a SMS).

As for online payments, a Silicon Valley firm, PayPal, has become an undisputed leader of online payments, and currently boasts of over 150 million accounts worldwide. Other players who are fast catching on include Google's Checkout and MoneyBookers. But credit card companies have clout and won't give up without a fight.

Many online transactions using some of the modes mentioned above will still require you to "verify" the payment, preferably using your credit card information. And online payments are not without their risks, and many people have lost their money by entering their financial information onto some phony websites masquerading as the real thing.

But as technology changes, the credit card's edge on convenience will look more and more beatable.



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