A new internet payment service, TrustedFriend, is launching, designed to better protect both buyers and sellers.
TrustedFriend works as an "escrow" service, or neutral middle man, costing a flat rate of £2.99 per transaction and protecting buyers as well as sellers and even offering a referee service if there are disputes over payment. Delivering services before they've been paid for is risky for sellers and, equally, buyers are hesitant to pay for goods before they've arrived. When a buyer uses TrustedFriend, their cash is placed into a UK bank account – which is covered by the Government's deposit protection scheme – where it stays until they are satisfied that the item they have purchased online has been delivered and is in satisfactory working order. Simultaneously, the seller is safe in the knowledge that they'll receive full payment, with interest, upon completing their side of the transaction.
The launch coincides with new Financial Services Authority rules which mean that should an escrow service go under, money deposited by buyers will be ringfenced. "This legislation means that the money we hold on behalf of clients, while they are waiting for goods and services to be delivered as promised, is now tightly safeguarded by law," says TrustedFriend founder Andrew Kaye.