Review: Google Simple, PayPal Versatile
Thursday, August 2, 2007; 4:19 PM
NEW YORK -- It's been a year since Google Inc. launched its much-anticipated payment service, and I've been curious whether a company known best for its search engine can deliver a money service as good as industry leader PayPal.
In many ways, I found Google Checkout much easier to use. I can pay for merchandise in fewer steps and more easily understand my account options.
But the ultimate test is whether Checkout works with the tasks for which I've been using PayPal, and the answer is no.
Checkout works well as an online wallet, a way to store credit card numbers and addresses so you don't have to retype all that information each time. PayPal functions more like a bank account: You can do much more, such as receiving money, but the array of options can be confusing and add steps to the shopping process.
Both are free to set up and make payments, and signing up is easy.
With Checkout, you provide at the outset an e-mail address _ through Google's Gmail or any other provider _ along with your credit card, billing and shipping information.
PayPal requires only your e-mail address and basic details to start and asks for your credit card or bank account information later as needed. (Google accepts payments via credit or debit cards only, while PayPal lets you withdraw funds from a regular bank account.)
In terms of buying goods, what I like about Checkout is its consistency and simplicity.
The layout and process are familiar whether I'm shopping at the Web site for Starbucks Corp., RadioShack Corp. or a small outfit called Weloveipod. I simply click on a "Google Checkout" logo, sign in, review my order and accept. There's a pull-down menu at the review stage where I can choose standard, express or other shipping option.
PayPal's look and feel vary, and it's not as seamless as Checkout.
Like Checkout, PayPal offers merchants various ways to integrate the service with their own online stores. That's good because sole proprietors will have different needs from a large merchant like Southwest Airlines Co. or Toys "R" Us Inc. But while the back end may vary, Checkout manages to make the front end appear consistent to the customer.
It took seven steps _ compared with Checkout's four _ to place a Starbucks order with PayPal. First, I encountered a PayPal screen where I must verify the information I have with the payment service. I then had to choose a shipping option separately and create a separate account with Starbucks.