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Amazon will shut down WebPay in October

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Ted S. Warren/AP/File

(Read caption) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks on stage for the launch of the new Amazon Fire Phone in June in Seattle. Amazon is shutting down WebPay, a peer-to-peer payment system that was meant to compete with PayPal.

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Users of Amazon’s free WebPay peer-to-peer (P2P) payments system got some bad news recently – the service will shut down Oct. 13.

You can still make payments through it until that date, and recipients will have 30 days after that to collect any money sent to them before it will revert to the sender, Amazon said on its site. The Seattle company advised registered payments services users of the change in an annual notice distributed Sept. 10, according to postings on various websites.

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“We are not addressing a customer pain point particularly better than anyone else,” the company said on its site in a section that explains how WebPay works. “We’ve learned a great deal about how and when customers want to send money and will look for ways to use these lessons in the future.”

Low impact

Amazon has offered the fee-free service, widely viewed as part of a campaign to challenge eBay’s PayPal unit in online financial services, for at least four years. Its ending gathered scant notice, however, which may indicate how little impact it had on the burgeoning market.

Users are able to send digital cash to anyone by email, using only a credit card or their Amazon account. Because it can be characterized as a payment by the sender and as cash by the recipient, transactions typically don’t cost either party anything.

Starting Oct. 13, registered users of Amazon Payments will no longer see the WebPay option when they sign on to their accounts, the company says. Users can still obtain a history of their transactions through the service after that date.

Alternatives to consider

WebPay is one of a few free P2P payment systems available to consumers. Square offers the service without charge and no membership is required, but only debit cards can be used to send and receive money. JPMorgan Chase’s QuickPay doesn’t cost anything but caps a user’s transactions at $2,000 a day and but at least one party involved has to have a Chase credit card. Venmo lets users send money fee-free using an established online account, a linked debit card or a bank account.

Most other alternatives like PayPal, Popmoney and Google Wallet charge modest amounts per transaction.

So if you’re a regular WebPay user, there are plenty of alternatives available once it shuts down – and some of them are still free, at least for now.