7 Alternative Payment Methods

The times when we were only bound to pay in cash are long gone. We no longer have to carry a heavy wallet filled with banknotes and coins and worry if we have enough money with us to cover all the expenses we planned for the day. And we’re not talking here about paying with major international credit cards only – that’s also considered to be ancient history by some! 

Nowadays, there are many alternative payment methods, called APMs for short. Thanks to them, you can make shopping faster and more convenient and not have to carry your wallet with you everywhere. Keep on reading to learn more about some of the most popular alternative payment methods!


Chances are that you still remember the times of paper check payments – if you do, you can easily imagine that this process just has to move to the virtual space in the times when we are able to do almost everything online. 

Making eCheck payments are not that hard – first, a customer needs to authorize the process. Then, the business needs to key the payment’s data via their software provider or their virtual terminal. If it’s a recurring payment, it can be set straight away for even higher convenience.

The next step is to wait for the company to save or submit the payment to initiate the funds’ transfer. The transaction is finished when the business acknowledges their receipt – after max 3-5 business days, they will see their money in their bank account. 

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

The name of this method is pretty self-explanatory – you buy a product or service at a certain moment, but you don’t have to pay for it straight away. It can be compared to an installment plan money lending process involving three partners – the customer, the financier, and the business. 

Whenever a customer wants to make a purchase and not cover the cost at once, the financier does it on their behalf. Then, the customer has some limited time to make the payment – it can be a set of regular repayments if the cost is too high to cover at one time. The number of repayments and the time you have to make them depend on a particular financier. That’s a great way to buy something urgently (because you need it quickly or because there’s a special offer), and you still need to wait till your next payday!

Electronic Wallets (E-Wallets)

An electronic wallet (e-wallet) can be compared to an electronic card used for online transactions on your computer or smartphone. It is a kind of pre-paid account where you can keep funds for your further purchases, linked to your bank account. 

To make use of an e-wallet, you need to transfer a certain amount of funds to it. Then, while making online transactions, you don’t have to open your bank account but just conveniently use the stored money. For higher safety, e-wallets are always protected with a password. Some of the most popular electronic wallets are as the following:

  • PayPal
  • Google Wallet
  • Apple Pay
  • Facebook Pay
  • Alipay
  • Cash App
  • Dwolla
  • Zelle
  • Venmo
  • Wise
  • LifePay

Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets are similar to e-wallets but in a mobile version, as the name may suggest. To use it, you need to transfer some funds from your credit card or bank account, or via a mobile carrier. 

Then, you can buy products and services online on your smartphone or transfer some money to another person. What’s more, it’s very convenient for paying bills – you can do it on the spot, whenever you recall you should do it! The payments can be done in an app, electronically online, or even through a QR code or SMS (when it’s a transfer to another individual).

Direct Carrier Billing (DCB)

Direct carrier billing, also called DCB for short, is a kind of an online payment method that makes it possible for you to buy products or services by charging payments to your mobile phone carrier bill. 

This method is used for paying for digital goods, including online services, software, mobile games, tickets, etc. Interestingly, it is also quite often used for supporting charities. Direct carrier billing is particularly popular in developing countries and undeveloped areas where it is not so common to use credit cards. It is worth knowing that over 1 billion adult people worldwide are still unbanked or underbanked, so that’s a good solution to help them pay for online goods and services.

Domestic Card Schemes

Domestic card schemes are not that different from the global card schemes that you know as Mastercard or Visa. The only major difference is that such cards can only be used in certain countries. They can be adjusted to the specific needs of a particular market and may help businesses cut operating costs as they are usually cheaper than their international counterparts. Examples of such payment methods include Bancontact in Belgium and Carte Bancaire in France.

Pre-Paid Vouchers

Another way to pay for your orders online is through a pre-paid voucher. They are commonly used as gifts – someone pays for a coupon to a certain store and lets the person choose what they like instead of trying to guess it. Such a solution is getting more and more popular because it lowers the risk of unwanted or repeated presents for Christmas, birthdays, or other special occasions. 

Using a voucher is usually super easy – at the checkout of a particular online store, there should be a dedicated button or field to enter your voucher code. Then, you just need to copy and paste it there, and the cost of your purchase will be covered with those funds instead of those from your bank account.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, nowadays, there are many ways to pay for your purchases – you don’t have to have cash or even your credit card with you. Most of the alternative payment methods work online as an answer to our moving more and more errands to the virtual space. We can now use eChecks, electronic or mobile wallets, direct carrier billing, pre-paid vouchers, or even not pay at once but have a financier who will temporarily cover the costs. 

The possibility of paying online in various ways makes shopping not only more convenient but also more accessible – for example, for people who have disabilities and have difficulties with going to physical stores. They can conveniently make a purchase online and have it shipped to their doorstep without having to ask anyone for help. It’s a sign the world is developing in the right direction!