You know, there is PayPal. But: 𝕴𝖙 𝖎𝖘 𝕲𝖊𝖗𝖒𝖆𝖓𝖞 𝖍𝖊𝖗𝖊. And in Germany we are very proud of our Insellösungen because of Data Protection and stuff. So the german banks invented something called Giropay. Or Paydirect. Or whatever, it seem to be two names for the same service.
The promise is the same: You can easily send money to your contacts with only their mobile phone number as the contact details, and you don’t need to remember their IBAN. What do you say, a phone number is as hard to memorize as an IBAN? Don’t worry, you can simply upload your whole phone book to their servers, and they will show all your contacts which have Giropay enabled as well. Did i mention Data Protection and unsolicited upload of foreign contact data to a third party servers?
Well, nevertheless i was curious about using this service. I vaguely remember having it set up several years ago but never used it. Yesterday night my bank ING released a new update of their app with Giropay built in. Setting up seemed to be easy: Enter your mobile phone number, get a TAN via SMS, upload all your contacts to the cloud, done. And so did i. And went to the office, where a colleague of me was using Giropay regularly and seemed to be happy that he got yet another contact where he could
request money from send money to.
So we tried. I selected his phone number from my contact list in the ING App. “Send money”. And got an error message: “An unknown error occured, please try again later”. I tried “Request money”. Same error message. At this point, a regular user would just ditch the service and go back to PayPal.
But i am not a regular user, and i could rely on the experience of my colleague, who tried to send me some money. I got an SMS from the Giropay service that someone tries to send me money and that i need to enter a code in the Giropay App. But didn’t i just set up everything in the app from ING? Apparently i did not set up my account in the right way - as if there could have been a wrong way with “Enter phone number, receive SMS”.
So i opened the Giropay service in my browser. It was asking me for username and password. I did not set up anything, so i clicked on “Forget password”. “Please enter your email address or phone number to continue”. OK, i entered the phone number i used to get the initial TAN. Which apparently wasn’t available in the system as a registered user.
Fortunately i remembered that i set up some Giropay stuff several years ago, most probably with my current email address. And, yes, i completed the “Forgot password” procedure. Which involved being redirected to my bank’s website, and granting the password reset request via their TAN service.
After logging in, it turns out that my Giropay account did not have any mobile phone number associated with it. Nevertheless, the phone number was shown in my colleague’s phone as “Ready to accept payments”. I added the phone number, which resulted in another TAN SMS from the Giropay service, and also a redirect to my bank for their internal TAN service.
But my main phone number is apparently not my contact phone number in terms of Giropay. So i added it a second time as my contact phone number. Yet another TAN SMS, yet another TAN service redirect.
Finally my colleague was able to send me money without me getting a notification SMS. Now i got a notification email, that i got some money, and i need the Giropay app to claim it. OK, download the app, login. “You need to authorize the login process via your bank’s TAN service” 🙄. An in-app browser was opened and i needed to login to my bank, after i dismissed several cookie alerts.
And, finally, i was logged in into an app, and i saw the transactions my colleague initiated. I was able to send him money via the Giropay app. None of these transactions show up in the ING App. After i got the money, i also got a message: “It can take several hours for this transaction to show up in your bank account”.
So, now, i’m baffled. This is one of the worst and most annoying onboarding procedures i ever experienced. I see no real use for this app, since PayPal allows me to do everything as well, even without uploading all my contacts’ data to some server, which is a technique which WhatsApp is highly criticized for. But without doing that, i need to remember my contacts’ phone number, which isn’t even more comfortable than memorizing their IBAN. Did i mention that Giropay works for german bank accounts only?
I simply don’t get it. And i’m not the only one. Giropay/Paydirekt was founded in 2005, only seven years after PayPal. Hardly anyone uses it. Klarna was founded in 2005 as well, which has millions of users. Giropay has way less. And did i even mention Kwitt? They even had an advertising campaign in cinemas, but unfortunately they were very focused on customers of the Sparkasse. And the only two people i know who used it were working for the Sparkasse 😄