E-commerce Comes to Credit Card Haters

UK-based EarthPort.com PLC has teamed with Dutch company TNT Post Group to market its Globalcollect invoice-based cash collection service. This partnership will create an online holding account for shoppers who want to pay cash for their purchases. Once Internet surfers send money to EarthPort to create an account called an “EarthWallet,” they can draw it out to pay for purchases from countries all over the world, in any currency, as long as the merchant is a member of the EarthPort network.

EarthPort provides one-step, secure transactions with registered EarthPort merchants and automatic currency conversion. In addition to avoiding the interest charges that can accrue on credit cards used for purchases, EarthPort account holders avoid the risk of hackers gaining access to their credit card information, the company says.

Merchants Wanted

There is a small hitch, but EarthPort says it is working on it: Only a handful of online merchants are members of the EarthPort network, so far. The company’s Web site lists more than 50 companies from the United States and Europe, with links to each, but only half of them actually accept EarthCash or EarthWallets.

Among those listed are Bid.com, Fax Fruit, DVD Express, Trees Direct and Universal Studios Direct. The London-based company is touting the service as a way for online merchants to open their businesses to EarthPort members in more than 200 countries. Earthport intends to “participate in the benefits of a broad diverse marketplace and a powerful location on the Internet High Street.”

Members receive regular invoices from EarthPort to replenish the funds in their accounts, based on the type of account they set up. EarthPort provides four cash storage options. By default, members start with a maximum buying power of $1,000 per week, with the actual amount determined by how much cash they put in their account. They can apply for higher-level accounts that permit $5,000 per week, $10,000 per week, or set no spending limit.

To step up to the $5,000 level, users must have had at least one clean credit card transaction in the last six months, must supply copies of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and cannot be billed at a post office box. For the $10,000 level, account holders must have deposited an average of $5,000 to the account in three consecutive months. To qualify for the highest level, applicants must pass a due diligence check similar to the applications Internet stock brokers require.

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