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To use an online payment service, the buyer and seller generally set up accounts that allow them to make or accept payments. Buyers provide payment information, like bank account or credit card numbers, and sellers give information about where payments should be deposited. In some cases, sellers do not have to create an account with the online payment service to receive funds. To complete a transaction, the buyer tells the online payment service to direct appropriate funds to the seller. The seller then gets immediate access to the funds. Most online payment services charge the seller to receive the funds, but some payment services charge the buyer.
Some online payment services offer protection to buyers if the seller fails to ship the goods or ships goods that are not as described. Usually, if a buyer uses a credit card to pay for goods or services through an online payment service, charge back rights are available to the buyer who uses the credit card. However, if the service considers the transfer of funds to be a method of sending cash rather than paying for goods, then charge back rights may not apply.
Online payment services also may protect buyers from unlawful use of their credit cards or bank accounts because the online payment service holds the account information, not the seller. Many sellers prefer online payment services because the services tend to provide more security than, say, personal checks.