Google won't be able to compete -- their attitude towards customer service is to drop trou and shit on their customer. It's annoying enough when it's your email, but if I where to move $10-$100k of cash to them I would expect to pick up the phone and get a human being empowered to make decisions on the phone. I've been on the wrong side of their customer service enough that I actively try to prevent relatives and friends from depending on anything google makes.
Amazon, however, loves coming into medium to high capital requirement low margin businesses and destroying the competition. I'm actually a little surprised they haven't been more aggressive here. The small credit unions that can offer local service and actually answer the phone may survive, but what differentiates citi/bofa/wellsfargo/bancorp etc? Not much that I can see -- unless you're a high net worth individual, there's little reason for most people who don't eg have international banking issues to bother with them.
I've been a customer of a local credit union for nearly 5 years. In that time, I've entered a branch exactly once: when I opened my account. I've opened new accounts, had my credit card stolen, gotten fraudulent purchases refunded, purchased a car via a loan, refinanced another loan, and gotten a quote for a mortgage mostly online with a handful of phone calls.
Amazon is a beast. I'd be nervous if I was in any market that Amazon has its eye on.
I actually switched from a big bank (PNC, great service but slow on the tech side to evolve) to Simple [http://www.simple.com]. I get a debit card, beautiful mobile and web apps, and I can do everything I could with a regular bank except going to a branch. And I never go to a branch (mobile deposit, ATM network, debit card, done).
Their support is excellent as well, something I'd never get from Amazon or Google.
EDIT: It appears you can get a money order at Walmart for 70 cents, and $1.20-$1.60 at USPS. Cashier's check at a local bank would be ~$5-10, depending if you're a customer or not.
I rarely, if ever, use an ATM, so you and I might haver different use cases. I'd rather have a pleasant UX vs perks like ATM fee reimbursements.
If Google is the referrer, FT drops the paywall.
It's not that hard ..
There is some sort of balance you need to strike between porous and impenetrable with a paywall. FT is too closed to be compelling to me, and probably a lot of other people.
More broadly, if you're putting a link on HN, it's your responsibility to make sure people can read it. If they can't, don't post it, please.
Sounds easy, but I don't believe anyone has something that works?
The first problem is inertia. You need a critical mass of users before anyone will bother to accept a particular payment processor, but users don't sign up if no one accepts the payment service. This is the reason why people still use Paypal.
The second problem is fraud. If someone commits fraud over a matter of $0.20, what amount of resources can you really afford to spend investigating it? A micropayment processor that thoroughly investigates fraud will have to charge the sellers a large chunk of the payments they process, but one that doesn't will be bankrupted by fraudsters.
Crypto currencies have some potential to break this by changing who eats the loss in the case of fraud. If it isn't the payment processor (or there is no payment processor) then micro-payments become viable. You still have problems with e.g. malicious software stealing bitcoins, but they're different problems that don't break micro-payments.
That's what I'm working on, nice to see someone pointing out some of the things we've been talking about internally!