PlugWallet offers to send you a USB stick loaded with an amount of money which you settle with the courier who brings it to you. All you then have to do is create a virtual account and you can make online purchases by plugging the electronic ‘wallet’ into your computer.

Online Purchases: All You Need is a USB Stick

PlugWallet’s idea is to use a UBS stick to make it easier for people who do not have a credit card to make purchases online. The Israeli startup, which was one of those selected for the Innovation BootCamp running last week in Tel Aviv, offers a payment service comprising a USB stick connected to a computer and linked to an email address which is password-protected. Basically the USB stick serves as an electronic purse. A person wishing to use the service must first obtain a PlugWallet kit, which is delivered to his/her home, and which s/he credits with 300, 500 or 800 shekels by paying the amount in cash to the courier. The purse-stick is then connected to a computer and registered via an online account for which the user must enter his/her name, an email address and a password.

Buying at a click

When the user wants to purchase a product online, all s/he has to do is connect up to her/his account, click on the ‘purchase’ button for the product s/he wants to buy and the ‘USB account’ will be debited for the amount. This only works, of course, if the merchant has signed up to participate in the scheme. The amount is then automatically debited, and sent to the merchant by PlugWallet. When the stick runs out of credit, it can be recharged by  depositing cash via a physical kiosk. PlugWallet also offers the option of transferring money between two USB wallets: the user simply connects to his/her online account and indicates the account he wishes to credit.

Transferring money

As is the case for online purchases, the user can transfer money without paying any commission, which means that this little stick offers a financial advantage over other money-transfer companies. The PlugWallet service can also be used by people who do have credit cards but for security reasons don’t wish to use them when making online purchases.PlugWallet users don’t have to reload their accounts online, which might entail giving out personal data. Other companies which also offer online purchasing services to unbanked customers are: US-based Paymo for micro e-commerce; the UK’s Paysafecard; Israeli firm E-biz, and the French prepaid mobile account service TagPay.