Paypal for seniors: why an old lady can’t donate money (easily)?

This is the story of an old lady who just wanted to put 20 $/€ on a paypal wallet for donations: the story of a long, unsafe and messy user experience.

What felt so wrong?

The person I had to help has a good heart. She regularly sees “call for donations” from her local associations on her tablet and wanted to participate. Going out to the events is becoming harder with age, but she still wants to be part of the community. Actually, I must confess, she also enjoys the idea of telling her friends she is up to date and uses the “new ways” of collaborating: your best idea of the “connected grandma”.

Creating an account on Paypal was the easy part actually. Unfortunately, this happy moment gave way to a real disappointment.

Quantity does matter!

I am already a guy with a kind of certain precaution. But with age, it seems to be even more acute. When a website asks for your banking numbers, what you really want to know is:

  • how much are they going to take?

And guess what, paypal did the opposite.

If you want to just put 20 $/€ on your wallet, you can’t. Because, Paypal doesn’t want just your money: Paypal wants to have your bank account for you to pay, and pay, and pay again. So there is no simple question like: “how much do you want to put on your wallet”. Instead, you have to put all your bank information. The question about the quantity comes after.

Of course, I really understand the business philosophy. But on a customer analysis point of view, I really believe Paypal missed an important part of their potential client groups.

The people Paypal forgot

The obvious client group, the main target, is made of people using regularly Paypal. These users don’t want to put their banking information again and again. They have no real fear about internet.

But our old lady belongs to a totally different group. Here, users consider Paypal as a small first step into the virtual money world. They fear of being robbed, and Paypal’s process unfortunately increases the fear. My witness user felt like she was being stripped naked.

10, 20, 50, more

With this old lady, we just wished to find an easy process, like the “amazon gift voucher”. A button with three regular amounts, and an option to put more. And that’s it. Pay with your credit card, and done.

Instead, we had to deal with two weird option:

  • Give your credit card, then make a donation of a certain amount to someone. But hey! That’s not a wallet. This is just a credit card payment.
  • Give your bank account, wait 2 or 3 days to confirm, then make payments.

Nothing like a simple “let’s put 50 quid on your wallet for easy donations now and then”!

Security, Security, Security

Of course, the value of an online company is based on the number of credit card number they have in their listings. But does all your customer want to leave their credit card to a far away business? Actually, I believe that for security reasons, the mean of payment should be erased from the account after use.

Here again, two completely different approach depending on the customer type: one group of regular users, wishing an instant payment; the other, preferring to reenter manually their information each time they do another payment (once a year usually).

Paypal should have a path for this second group, from the beginning… and then help them, when they become accustomed, to join the first group!

The “small and safe” lesson, Paypal didn’t learn

An incredible number of people are leftover from the internet world. They fear it. Paypal is one of the most useful mean of money exchange (the one that traditional banking completely missed). Small communities, relying on small amounts of money, gained through bits and bits of donations and fundraising, need to have this kind of service.

But the service needs to take into account the User Experience they expect.

Here is the process that an online wallet should provide for the “small and safe” user group:

  1. Easy “one time” credit card filling of the wallet. (With pre-set amounts: 10, 20, 50)
  2. Automatic erasement of the mean of payment after money is in the wallet

Is your website ready for “small and safe”?

Marketing and webdesigner created their sites bearing in mind an ideal image of their customer: come often, give me your bank data, buy, buy, buy. They tend to reduce, from the start, this target as the ONLY path on their site.

A good selling website should have in mind to provide an experience for the other group of users, who need a slower slope, and who come online two obsessions: don’t feel stripped of your bank information, don’t feel exposed by letting your credit card information available online.

The success of such a website would be a nice progression on “internet newbies”, especially in the elderly market group.